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Sharapova Eliminated

September 8, 2012
The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

By HOWARD FENDRICH

AP Tennis Writer

NEW YORK - Normally so good, so gritty, in the crucible of the third set, Maria Sharapova finally met her match against Victoria Azarenka.

Coming all the way back from a set and a break down, the top-seeded Azarenka prevailed in a stirring third, beating four-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 on Friday to reach her first U.S. Open final.

"This one didn't go my way," Sharapova said. "Frustrating, but it's the game of tennis. A lot of swings in the match today. Certainly had the lead and the advantage."

Entering Friday, Sharapova was 12-0 in three-setters this year, and had won 78 consecutive matches in which she took the opening set, a streak dating to 2010. But Azarenka broke in the last game to push her own 2012 record to 12-0 in matches that went the distance.

"Actually, I didn't know that statistic," Azarenka said during an on-court interview. "It's pretty good."

Perfect, actually.

On Saturday, Australian Open champion Azarenka will play in her second major final of the season - and career - against 14-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams. Seeking a fourth title at Flushing Meadows, the fourth-seeded Williams wasted little time or energy while overwhelming 10th-seeded Sara Errani of Italy 6-1, 6-2.

Williams, trying to become the first 30-year-old woman to win the U.S. Open since Martina Navratilova in 1987, compiled a 38-6 edge in winners in her 64-minute semifinal against Errani.

Since a surprising exit at the French Open in late May, her only first-round loss in 49 appearances at major tournaments, Williams is 25-1, including a title at Wimbledon and gold medal at the London Olympics.

Williams owns a 9-1 career record against Azarenka.

Then again, the way Azarenka dealt with Sharapova, she's probably feeling pretty good about herself, too. She sure looked pleased while doing a little jig, then chucking some tennis balls into the stands, after the fading Sharapova's forehand sailed long on the final point of their 2-hour, 42-minute quarterfinal.

"I was just not trying to focus on the score," Azarenka said. "Trying to give whatever it takes."

At The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center

New York

Purse: $25.5 million (Grand Slam)

Surface: Hard-Outdoor

Singles

Women

Semifinals

Victoria Azarenka (1), Belarus, def. Maria Sharapova (3), Russia, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

Serena Williams (4), United States, def. Sara Errani (10), Italy, 6-1, 6-2.

Doubles

Men

Championship

Bob and Mike Bryan (2), United States, def. Leander Paes, India, and Radek Stepanek (5), Czech Republic, 6-3, 6-4.

 
 

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