Victoria Azarenka came from behind to stun Serena Williams in a three-set thriller and reach the US Open final on Thursday.
The unseeded Belarusian fought back to overcome Williams, seeded third, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 in 1hr 56min under the roof of Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Azarenka will now play Naomi Osaka of Japan in Saturday’s final.
It will be the former world number one’s first appearance in the final of a tennis major since Williams beat her in the final of the US Open in 2013.
“That’s my favorite number so I guess that’s meant to be,” Azarenka said of her seven-year wait to return to a Grand Slam singles final.
“I’m very grateful for this opportunity. I’m so grateful to be able to play such a champion in the semi-finals,” she added.
Two-time Grand Slam winner Azarenka had never beaten Williams before in a Grand Slam and she seemed to be heading for another agonizing loss after being hammered 6-1 in the first set.
But the 31-year-old turned the tide in set two, upping her service game and drastically reducing her unforced errors as she began to dictate lengthy rallies.
“I knew it’s never over until I have another chance,” said Azarenka. The player from Belarus had suffered a heartbreaking loss to Williams in the 2012 US Open, when she served for the match at 5-3 in the third set only to lose 7-5.