Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka entered their US Open semifinal with perfect 12-0 and 11-0 record in three-setters in 2012 respectively and their encounter went the distance, with the world No.1 Azarenka catching up with Sharapova after a 3-6 6-2 6-4 victory in two hours and 42 minutes.
Sharapova used to be 3-0 against Azarenka in three-set matches, but today it was the Belarusian who was much more confident on her serve, while her returns were out of this world. Even though the lack of tiebreaks may suggest that sets were not that long, a lot of the games were very tense, several lasting about 10 minutes, and tennis fans had their hearts full with the two power-hitters giving each other the perfect conditions to show their outstanding force and preciseness.
Five double faults didn’t prevent Sharapova from winning the first set, but in the second set it was Azarenka who took charge, going up 4-1 and working her way to taking the most beautiful game of the match, the seventh game of the second set, in which Sharapova did have break points. Azarenka finished the job in the following game, even though Sharapova was 40-0 on her serve – an excellent winner, two double faults and an unforced error by Sharapova gave Azarenka a set point. Sharapova saved that first one, but succumbed on the second.
The third set lasted 74 minutes and had no breaks of serve until the very end! The length of the set was mostly due to Sharapova’s struggles on her own serve, but also her determination not to give them up. Azarenka looked pretty cool and relaxed, while Sharapova seemed tense and a bit panicky, especially towards the end, truth be said, she had every reason for that. It was just a matter of time when she would not be able to save herself and that moment came in the tenth game of the deciding set.