September 23, 2020

Serena Williams loses in three sets in U.S. Open semifinal

Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka (R) of Belarus talks with Serena Williams (L) of the United States after winning their Women’s Singles semifinal match on Day Eleven of the 2020 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 10, 2020 in the Queens borough of New York City. | Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Victoria Azarenka, a 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 winner, will play Naomi Osaka in the final

NEW YORK — Serena Williams already was struggling to keep up in a fast-paced U.S. Open semifinal when she stopped behind the baseline after a third-set point and leaned over. She held that pose for a bit, then clutched at her left ankle and asked for a trainer.

While Williams took a medical timeout for a tape job, her latest bid for a 24th Grand Slam singles title seemingly slipping away, her opponent, Victoria Azarenka, sat in a sideline seat, eyes closed, calm and composed as can be.

After a delay of about five minutes, action resumed, and while Williams raised the force of her shots and volume of her shouts, it was Azarenka who finished off a 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory to return to a major championship final for the first time since 2013.

“It’s been seven years? That’s my favorite number. I guess that’s meant to be. I’m very gratgeul for this oportunity,” said Azarenka who won the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013 and lost to Williams in the U.S. Open finals each of those two years. “On the road to the final, you have to beat the best players and today was that day.”

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The loss left Williams just short of No. 24 yet again. She was beaten in the finals of four of the preceding seven Slams, including at Flushing Meadows in 2018 and 2019.

With her 39th birthday a little more than two weeks away, the question will become: How many more chances will Williams get?

This was Williams’ fourth consecutive three-setter in New York and although she was far better at the outset Thursday, racing to a 4-0 lead inside of 15 minutes, Azarenka eventually did get going.

Evidence of Azarenka’s brilliance: She compiled 12 winners and merely one unforced error in the second set, then continued her baseline mastery in the third, especially with her backhand.

That carried her to her first win against Williams in 11 career Grand Slam matchups between the pair.

On Saturday, Azarenka will face Naomi Osaka for the championship in a meeting between two-time major champions who have both been ranked No. 1 in the past and have been by far the two best players since tennis resumed last month after a pandemic-forced hiatus.

Azarenka has won 11 matches in a row; Osaka’s streak is at 10 after her 7-6 (1), 3-6, 6-3 win over Jennifer Brady in a hard-hitting semifinal filled with fast serves and strong forehands.

Azarenka and Osaka were supposed to play in the final of the Western & Southern Open — a hard-court event moved from Ohio to New York this year as part of …read more

Source:: Chicago Sun Times

      

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