Former world number one Victoria Azarenka on Thursday rallied to beat 23 times Grand Slam champion Serena Williams in the semifinals of the women’s singles competition of the ongoing US Open.
In what was a pulsating last-four encounter, Azarenka went past the six-time US Open champion 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 after one hour and 55 minutes to reach her third final. The 31-year-old will face Japan’s Naomi Osaka in the marquee clash.
“Seven is my favourite number, so I guess it’s meant to be,” Azarenka noted, joking about the gap between major final appearances during her on-court interview as per the WTA website.
“I’m very grateful for this opportunity, to be able to play such a champion in a semifinal. The road to the final requires you to beat the best players, and today was definitely that day.
“Hopefully this inspires women to go after their dreams. I feel like you can’t always identify yourself as just one thing, because we have many things we can do in our lives.
“A parent is the most important thing I can be in my life, but I’m also a tennis player, a fighter on the court. I want to go after my personal dreams, to inspire my child. I hope women around the world know they can do anything. Being a parent is the toughest thing, so once you can balance that, you can do anything,” the unseeded player added.
In the other semi-final, 2018 US Open champion Osaka edged past number 28 seed Jennifer Brady in a three-set thriller. The world number 8 won 7-6(1), 3-6, 6-3.
Osaka fired home 35 winner while committing 17 unforced errors en route to her second final at the Flushing Meadows in New York. The 22-year-old has so far player only two Grand Slam finals (2018 US Open and 2019 Australian Open) and won them both.
“Sometimes I think I have no choice but to play as hard as I can, because my opponent isn’t giving me any looks,” Osaka said in her post-match press conference. “For me, normally if I focus that much, then the match potentially could be over in two. But I felt like it just kept going on.
“Honestly, it was a bit fun because that quality of an opponent… at the final stages of a tournament. Yeah, it was fun,” she added.