Serena Williams was beaten 1-6 6-3 6-3 in the semi-finals of the U.S. Open by Victoria Azarenka on Thursday, denying her the chance of winning a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title on home soil this year.
Belarusian Azarenka will play Japan’s Naomi Osaka in her third final at Flushing Meadows on Saturday, having lost the previous two to Williams in 2012 and 2013.
Six-times U.S. Open champion Williams came out firing winners from all sides of the Arthur Ashe Stadium court and wrapped up the opening set in little more than half an hour.
Azarenka, playing her first Grand Slam semi-final in seven years, raised her game in the second stanza and came out on top after some explosive exchanges of power-hitting.
The twice Australian Open champion kept up the pressure in the third as 38-year-old Williams struggled with an injury to her left ankle and sealed her place in the final with an ace.
Order of play on the main show court on the 12th day of the U.S. Open on Friday (prefix number denotes seeding):
Arthur Ashe Stadium
Women’s doubles final (1600 GMT/12 PM ET)
3-Nicole Melichar (U.S.)/Yifan Xu (China) v Laura Siegemund (Germany)/Vera Zvonareva (Russia)
Men’s singles semi-final (not before 2000 GMT/4 PM ET)
20-Pablo Carreno Busta (Spain) v 5-Alexander Zverev (Germany)
Men’s singles semi-final (not before 2130 GMT/5:30 PM ET)
3-Daniil Medvedev (Russia) v 2-Dominic Thiem (Austria)