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Naomi Osaka will go in search of her second US Open crown when she meets Victoria Azarenka at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows on Saturday on SuperSport Tennis Africa (22:00 CAT, SA, GMT+2).
Osaka defeated 28th seed Jennifer Brady 7-6 (7/1), 3-6, 6-3 to book her place in a second US Open final. The Japanese star defeated Serena Williams in the 2018 final and Azarenka overcame the 23-time Grand Slam singles title champion to set up a meeting with Osaka in New York.
Azarenka recovered from a 6-1 hammering in the opening set to win the next two 6-3, 6-3 and schedule her first Grand Slam final appearance in seven years.
The Belarusian reached back-to-back US Open finals in 2012 and 2013 — the same years in which she won the Australian Open — but lost to Williams on both occasions.
“I’m so grateful to be able to play such a champion in the semifinals,” said Azarenka following her first win over Williams in 10 encouters at a major. “On the road to the final, you have to beat the best players, and definitely today was that day.”
“I dug myself in a big hole—she dug me in a big hole in the first set,” Azarenka added. “I had to climb my way out of there, one by one. I’m very happy that I was able to turn it around.”
Osaka owns a 2-1 edge over Azarenka and will fancy her chances of a third Grand Slam win in a city close to her heart.
“It means a lot for me,” said Osaka. “I kind of consider New York my second home. I really love the atmosphere, even though sadly there’s no people here, I really feel this court really suits me well.”
“I just felt like I wanted to come out of quarantine being positive and not really caring if I win or lose, but just knowing I put in 100 percent effort.”
“I feel like definitely I’ve been getting more confident in myself. I feel like all these matches apply to each other. I know that once it gets to a third set, as long as I stay calm, the outcome could go in my favor,” she concluded.
On Friday, Nicole Melichar and Xu Yifan will battle Laura Siegemund and Vera Zvonareva in the Women’s doubles final (18:00 CAT, SA, GMT+2).
The Chinese-American pair and No. 3 seeds of Melichar and Yifan will contest in their second straight final in as many weeks, after defeating Asia Muhammad and Taylor Townsend, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6.
German-Russian duo of Siegemund and Zvonareva booked their final ticket with a 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 win over the all-Russian tandem of Anna Blinkova and Veronika Kudermetova.
Of the four finalists, Zvonareva is the only player to lift a women’s doubles trophy at a Grand Slam, capturing the 2006 US Open title alongside Nathalie Dechy and the 2012 Australian Open title with Svetlana Kuznetsova.
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Saturday 12 September
22:00: Women’s final – LIVE on SuperSport Tennis Africa