Sharapova started the match like a house of fire. She was picking her spots, delivering on her serve and not making mistakes.
Azarenka was the total opposite. She seemed rattled by Sharapova, and her play was uneven early on.
As the first set played out, Azarenka was allowed back in the set late because of unforced errors from Sharapova. The 2012 French Open champion had several double faults late in the first set that showed she was vulnerable.
Despite struggling late in the set, Sharapova won 6-3, but the latter part of it set the tone for the remainder of the match.
Confidence in tennis is everything and Sharapova showing her struggles allowed Azarenka to relax and play her game in the second set.
She did just that, winning 6-2.
Azarenka simply outlasted Sharapova in the grueling third and final set. In a set that featured several deuces, the result could have easily been flipped to the side of Sharapova. But the World No. 1 proved to be more clutch in the big moments, closing out a thrilling three-set victory at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Despite playing in the earlier of the two women's semifinals, one can wonder how much of an impact this taxing three-set victory will have in Saturday's final when she faces Serena Williams or Sara Errani.
We will find out Saturday at 8 p.m.
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