Victoria Azarenka defeated defending U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur,… (Mike Groll / Associated…)
NEW YORK -- Victoria Azarenka outlasted a 65-minute rain delay and the scrambling all-court tennis of Samantha Stosur to advance to the semifinals of the U.S. Open with a 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (5) victory Tuesday at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Stosur, the defending champion and seventh seed, had never beaten the top-seeded Azarenka or even taken a set off her. But Azarenka, a 23-year-old from Belarus, with the help of a gutsy drop shot that produced her one and only match point, withstood the attacking tennis of the 28-year-old Stosur.
The Ashe crowd was firmly on the side of Stosur, who makes most of her noise with her tennis strokes unlike Azarenka, who shrieks and howls on every point and almost drowned out the "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oi, oi, oi!" chants that seemed to propel Stosur each time she fell behind in the 2 hour, 23-minute match.
Stosur fell behind in the final-set tiebreaker, 4-0, before fighting back to pull even at 5-5 with a monstrous overhead. But it was on the next point where Azarenka went bold. After a net cord forehand from Stosur skipped across the court, Azarenka rushed forward and produced the dainty drop shot for a 6-5 lead and a minibreak in the tiebreak. After a big serve followed by a big forehand from Azarenka, Stosur could only fly a backhand long.
With rain threatening before, during and after the match, Azarenka said she was thrilled to be done and into the semifinals.
Azarenka's win means she will remain ranked No. 1 no matter what happens the rest of the way at the Open. Azarenka, who won her first major title earlier this year at the Australian Open, has never been beyond the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open until now.
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