Azarenka books final return
Victoria Azarenka is through to her second successive US Open final after a see-saw 6-4 6-2 victory over Flavia Pennetta at Flushing Meadows.
The second seed put an end to the fairytale run in New York for the unseeded Italian with a straight sets triumph after one hour and 34 minutes on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
However, the final scoreline did not do justice to how hard Pennetta - who knocked out three seeds to make the last four of a grand slam for the first time - made the 2012 runner-up work to reach Sunday's showpiece.
Both players struggled to keep their serve with 13 breaks in the 18 games, though Azarenka's extra power proved the difference at the crucial stages of the contest.
The tone was set when both players were broken immediately, though Pennetta did then hold to move ahead. That, though would be her only success on her own serve.
Azarenka had her troubles too, including sending down six double faults, and she needed no fewer than six set point opportunities before finally edging in front.
An immediate break suggested the second set might be a little more straightforward, only for Pennetta to respond in kind to show she had no intention of going down without a fight.
Sadly, though, her service continued to let her down. She was broken twice in between an Azarenka hold, leaving her facing an almighty task at 4-1 down.
Pennetta, now ranked 83 in the world after being hampered last year by a wrist injury, clung on and broke back before she surrendered the advantage yet again, dropping serve for the eighth time.
Azarenka - bidding to become the first woman since 1997 to win both the Australian and US Open titles in the same year - quickly moved 40-0 up and although two match points went begging, the third proved lucky enough when a forehand on the run left Pennetta completely wrong-footed.
"I am so excited to be back in the final and get the chance to fight for the trophy," said Azarenka, who will now wait to see if she faces Serena Williams, the player who denied her the title 12 months ago, or Li Na in the final.
"It was a great match today. There were lots of emotions. It was tricky because I struggled to find any rhythm and Flavia is such a great fighter. I couldn't get a ball in play."