Flushing Meadows, NY (SportsNetwork.com) – Russian Ekaterina Makarova secured a berth in her first-ever Grand Slam semifinal with a mild upset over two-time runner-up Victoria Azarenka at the U.S. Open.
The 17th-seeded Makarova doused Azarenka 6-4, 6-2 in 1 hour, 27 minutes at Ashe Stadium. The Belarusian star Azarenka piled up six double faults and was broken four times on Day 10 of the fortnight.
Unusually low-key for most of the match, the 2012 and 2013 U.S. Open runner-up Azarenka smashed her racquet after a crucial unforced error gave Makarova a break and a 4-2 lead in the second set.
The left-handed Makarova is now 3-3 lifetime against Azarenka, including 1-1 at the majors.
The former world No. 1 Azarenka is having trouble re-locating her once- formidable game after returning to action in June after being sidelined with a foot injury for three months.
The 26-year-old Moscow native Makarova has played in at least the quarterfinals at four of the last eight and five of the last 12 Grand Slam events. She has yet to drop a set at the 2014 U.S. Open.
Azarenka had won 16 of her previous 18 matches in Flushing and by failing to reach the semifinals this week she will now drop out of the top 20.
Makarova’s final-four opponent will be world No. 1 Serena Williams or 11th- seeded Italian Flavia Pennetta, who will square off Wednesday night at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The 17-time Grand Slam champion Williams is a five-time titlist in Flushing Meadows.
Williams is 5-0 lifetime against Pennetta, including a win in Cincinnati last month and a quarterfinal U.S. Open victory back in 2009.