Victoria Azarenka, recovered from a knee injury at Wimbledon, now has a chance to bookend her season with a Grand Slam title.
Flavia Pennetta, who was watching the U.S. Open from home last year after wrist surgery, now can finish out her season in style.
Azarenka advanced to the Open women's final Sunday with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Pennetta Friday at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
This was Azarenka's 31st victory in 32 matches on hard courts this season. She got her year off to a roaring start by winning the Australian Open for the second year in a row on the hard courts at Melbourne. Now she will face Serena Williams for the second year in a row in the Open final on the hard court of Ashe Stadium.
Williams, the defending champion, is No. 1 in the world and Azarenka No. 2. It's the first time since 2003 that the top two ranked players will meet for the title.
"It's an amazing opportunity, something that every tennis player dreams of, to be in the final of the U.S. Open and play against the best player in the world," Azarenka said. "It's something that I'm so excited about, and I can't wait to go out and play."
Though she lost, Pennetta reveled in her first appearance in a Grand Slam semifinal. Coming into the tournament, the 31-year-old, a four-time quarterfinalist at the Open, had done little to suggest that she would challenge for the title. Ranked 83rd in the world, largely because she was trying to cope with the impact of the surgery, Pennetta beat four seeded players to reach the semifinals.
She couldn't hold her serve On Friday, getting broken eight times in nine service games.
"Today I lost, but I lost with the No. 2 in the world," the Italian said. "I think I really fight well. I try until the last point . . . I didn't expect to be in semifinal now, so everything is coming. It's so nice and so perfect."