World number one Iga Swiatek battled past Aryna Sabalenka to set up a US Open final against Ons Jabeur on Saturday.
Swiatek trailed big-hitting Belarusian Sabalenka 4-2 in the deciding set on Arthur Ashe Stadium but fought back impressively to triumph 3-6 6-1 6-4 and reach her third grand slam final.
The 21-year-old and Jabeur have been the most consistently in-form players of the last two years along with the now-retired Ashleigh Barty and Saturday’s clash will bring either a first major title for Jabeur or a first away from the French Open for Swiatek.
We have a Top-5 matchup for the women's title! pic.twitter.com/l9iVzUOw8g
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 9, 2022
The Pole dropped her racket when Sabalenka netted a final backhand, and Swiatek said: “I just think against Aryna you have to have the energy to push her back and be able to play back those fast balls.
“The first set I lacked a bit of that. I needed to get it together and I’m pretty glad I did that. Even though I lost the first game (of the third set) I just had hope. I feel like I just played another level, so that’s great. I’m really happy.”
The defeat was hard on Sabalenka, who has now played three slam semi-finals in the last 14 months and lost close contests each time.
The pair had met three times before this season, with Swiatek winning easily each time.
The Pole has not been at her best since winning her second slam title at the French Open in June but looked sharper in her quarter-final victory over Jessica Pegula on Wednesday.
The errors were back in the opening set here and it was Sabalenka who took the initiative, her power play landing meaningful blows.
Swiatek has shown the benefit all fortnight of her winning habit, though. Instead of slashing her way through draws as she did on clay, the Pole has been able to dig into a deep well of belief when she has most needed it.
In the second set, the top seed cut out most of the errors and began to make Sabalenka miss, which she did far too often.
It was the Belarusian back in charge at the start of the decider, moving ahead 2-0 and then 4-2 but each time Swiatek hit back, repelling Sabalenka’s force and seizing her chances to hit into the corners.
When Swiatek held for 5-4, the pressure was all on the Sabalenka serve, and the top seed took her opportunity to move forward to another final.