Victoria Azarenka has claimed what might be the biggest win of her career as she came from a set down to defeat third seed Serena Williams 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the US Open semifinals in one hour, 53 minutes.
After dropping the first set in 35 minutes, the two-time major champion broke twice in the second set and early in the third to record her first victory over Williams at a Grand Slam event on her 11th try and her fifth in 23 career meetings.
The win sends Azarenka into the championship match at Flushing Meadows for the third time and her first since 2013 where she will face fourth seed Naomi Osaka for the title on Saturday.
Azarenka rallies from a set down to finally beat Williams at a Grand Slam event
It was a quick start for Williams as a double fault by Azarenka gave the American an early advantage. A hold made it 2-0 and the third seed had 15-40 on the Belarusian's serve and after she saved one break point, a wild forehand by Azarenka gave Williams a 3-0 double break lead.
Another hold made it 4-0 before Azarenka finally got on the board and she had a break point in the next game, but she missed with a backhand wide, allowing Williams to go on and hold. A 12-point game followed with the six-time US Open champion wrapping up the set on her second set point with a forehand winner.
The beginning of the second set saw Azarenka stare down another break point, which was erased with a weak backhand into the net by Williams. She would go on to hold and then grab the decisive break in the fifth game with a stunning backhand winner for a 3-2 lead.
Azarenka had a chance for a double break lead, but Williams fended off both opportunities to stay within touch. A hold for the two-time major champion made it 5-3 and she wrapped up the set with another backhand winner, a fist pump to her box and the match was now level at one set all.
At deuce in the second game of the third set, Williams appeared to injure her ankle and had to take a medical timeout and after she received treatment, the 23-time Grand Slam champion was broken to give Azarenka a 2-0 lead. That proved to be the decisive game as neither woman had a break chance after that.
Serving for the match at 5-3, a big serve brought Azarenka to match point and an ace, confirmed after a challenge by Williams, put the Belarusian into her third final in Flushing Meadows, sealing the most satisfying victory of her Hall of Fame career.