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Her win over the 10th-seeded Errani of Italy turned out exactly the way it looked beforehand on paper.

Errani spun in serves at an average of 83 mph, while Williams was consistently in the 110s.

Errani hustled from side to side, retrieving balls and trying to get into long points, while Williams stayed patient _ but only as patient as she had to be _ setting herself up for 38 winners against only 21 unforced errors.

Williams finished with nine aces and heads into the final with 50 for the tournament. Errani’s total: Zero.

“My objective was to prolong the match as much as possible,” said Errani, who did, in fact, stay out there for 1 hour, 4 minutes.

In some ways, the mismatch makes Errani’s trip to the U.S. Open look that much more impressive. She was the finalist at the French Open on the slow red clay at Roland Garros, but her game held up on the quicker hard courts, too, and Williams, not fully pleased with her own play to this point, was complimentary.

“I definitely played better today,” Williams said. “I played better than my other matches. And playing someone like her, you have to go better.”

Azarenka, meanwhile, found herself in a completely different kind of tussle against this year’s French Open champion.

She fell behind after a nervous first set, then got a pair of breaks in the second to even the match.

These players came in with a combined 23-0 record in three-set matches this year _ 12 for Sharapova and 11 for Azarenka _ and something had to give.

Sharapova blinked first, falling behind 0-30 in her final service game, scratching back to save one match point, but flying a forehand long on the second.

Moments later, Azarenka was dancing near center court, knowing she’s one win away from adding this to her Australian Open title from earlier this year. In her on-court interview, she said she wished she could stay out there and keep playing.

A few hours later, she found out her opponent would, in fact, be Williams, who is 9-1 lifetime against the Belarusian.

“Well, first of all, if you look at our record, it says it all,” Azarenka said. “I haven’t won in any last meetings, so I definitely need to find something to surprise her tomorrow, because she’s in great form, feeling really confident right now.”

Williams will be in her 19th Grand Slam final, a string that began here at Flushing Meadows in 1999, when she defeated Martina Hingis for her first title.

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