World number one Victoria Azarenka repeated her Australian Open triumph over Maria Sharapova to reach her first US Open final on Sunday.
Saturday’s scheduled US Open women’s singles final was postponed until Sunday because of forecast heavy rains and storms, organisers announced.
The Melbourne victory, which gave Azarenka her first grand slam title, had been one-sided as the Belarusian lost only three games but this was a titanic struggle between two of women’s tennis’ biggest fighters.
Azarenka finally came out on top 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 after two hours and 42 minutes and will meet either Serena Williams or French Open finalist Sara Errani tomorrow night.
The 23-year-old said: “I was just trying to grab the first opportunity that I had. Maria is such a great player. I knew she would come out firing and she did. I tried to find my rhythm and just fight.
“I tried to give whatever it takes. I knew my opponent was going to play hard so I had to play harder. I gave it my all. I guess it worked. It’s my first final and I’m so excited.”
In the Australian Open final, it had been Sharapova who had made the better start before Azarenka took control and won 12 of the last 13 games.
The Russian again was the more solid in the early stages here, and this time she kept it going, turning a 3-0 lead into 5-1 and the opportunity to serve for the set.
Sharapova wobbled and looked like she would lose her advantage completely when Azarenka had two chances to reduce the deficit to 5-4, her opponent throwing in two double faults in the windy conditions.
But the World No 1, who hit only one winner in the opening set, could not take her opportunity and Sharapova clinched it with her first ace of the match.
Sharapova heads for ice cream after loss
Maria Sharapova refused to lick her wounds after her US Open semis loss to Victoria Azarenka, opting instead for the consoling taste of a New York-style vanilla ice cream.
“I’m looking forward to checking out the ice cream truck that’s around the corner from my hotel. Vanilla with rainbow sprinkles. It has been haunting me,” said Sharapova.