Azarenka books final spot
Victoria Azarenka defeated Flavia Pennetta to reach her second consecutive US Open final.
- Related Content
The two-time Australian Open champion was just too strong for first-time grand slam semi-finalist Pennetta as she battled to a 6-4 6-2 victory.
It was a competitive match in which both players struggled on serve.
Out of 18 games, 13 were breaks, with Pennetta holding her serve just once in the whole match.
The end of the first set was the key to Azarenka's victory.
The second seed let out a piercing scream after missing a simple volley at 30-30 in the ninth game but Pennetta was unable to capitalise and Azarenka eventually held to take the set.
Pennetta saved five set points but on the sixth Azarenka, somewhat ironically, came up with an unreturnable serve.
The second set was more one-sided and Azarenka clinched victory on her third match point with a forehand winner.
The Belarusian will surely need to serve better if she is to win a first title in New York as she faces a rematch of last year's gripping final against Serena Williams on Sunday. Williams beat Li Na in her semi.
Azarenka said: "I'm happy I'm in the final. There are always things that can be better.
"I felt like the first set was a little bit tricky. The momentum wasn't there. I felt like I had great groundstrokes, just one shot wasn't working and it threw my rhythm a little bit off balance.
"Overall, just being able to pick up and raise the level in the important moments, that's what it's all about.''
The Belarusian will take confidence from the fact she has won two of her three matches with Williams this season, including in Cincinnati last month.
She also feels she has improved as a player since a narrow defeat in last year's title match in New York.
Azarenka said of last year's final: "Mentally I felt like it was a great turning point for me. It was just really good experience.
"I feel like I'm a better player. I'm a more complete player. That's what you aim for after one year of work. So in terms of that, I'm pretty pleased.''
For Pennetta, meanwhile, it has been an outstanding tournament at the end of one of the most difficult years of her career.
The 31-year-old Italian missed the tournament last year after having wrist surgery that kept her out for six months, and she struggled on her return to the tour, dropping well outside the top 100.
Pennetta's results mean she will rise from her current ranking of 83 close to the top 30 when the standings are updated on Monday.
She said: "I'm really happy about the tournament, about how I played, the matches I won, everything.
"Today I lost but I lost against the number two in the world. I tried my best. I think I fought really well.''