Williams to face Azarenka in US Open women’s final

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NEW YORK (AP) - Standing only about a foot from the net, Serena Williams wound up that ferocious backhand and pounded it away for another easy winner.

She bent down, pumped her fist and shouted “Come On” at the top of her lungs.

Quite a reaction for a shot that put her one point away from a 4-1 lead in the second set of her U.S. Open semifinal.

Imagine how she might respond if she finally gets pushed, even a little bit, in the final against Victoria Azarenka.

After Williams‘ predictably punishing 6-1, 6-2 dismantling of Sara Errani in the semifinals on Friday, only Azarenka can stop the fourth-seeded American from taking home her fourth title from Flushing Meadows and her 15th Grand Slam title overall.

Azarenka arrived at the same destination as Williams but has taken a remarkably different journey.

The No. 1 seed defeated No. 3 Maria Sharapova 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 in Friday’s first semifinal and, like Williams, is seeking her second Grand Slam title of the season. But while Azarenka has been pushed in this tournament, winning back-to-back, tense three-setters in her last two matches, Williams hasn’t had to work all that hard.

She has lost only 19 games in six matches.

Still, she is heading into the final with the attitude of an underdog.

“I feel like I’m going up against _ I personally think _ the most consistent and the best player this year,” Williams said. “I feel like I don’t have anything to lose and it will be a good challenge for me.”

The men’s semifinals are also scheduled for Saturday.

Third-seeded Andy Murray opens the day against sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych in a matchup of players seeking their first major titles, both of whom have victories over Roger Federer this summer _ Murray at the Olympics and Berdych here in the quarterfinals.

The later semifinal pits defending champion Novak Djokovic against fourth-seeded David Ferrer, who is trying to make his first Grand Slam final.

The women’s final is scheduled for Saturday night, when the forecast calls for a 70 percent chance of rain.

On Friday, it was muggy with temperatures in the low 80s, though Williams didn’t have to worry much about conditions or anything else.

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