US Open: Women's semi-finals as they happened

Serena Williams thrashes Sara Errani 6-1 6-2 to set up a US Open final against world number one Victoria Azarenka.

12 September 2012 Last updated at 12:35 GMT

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As it happened

  1. 2359: 

    Serena Williams books her place in the final against world number one Victoria Azarenka after an hour and six minutes. The final will be played at 0005 BST on Sunday. The home favourite writes her signature on a handful of tennis balls before directing them towards row z. That's it from live text towers for this evening. Join us again for men's semi-final day and, of course, the women's final. Cheerio.

  2.  
    GAME, SET AND MATCH- Williams 6-1 6-2 Errani

    Williams, with a sixth US Open final looming, grinds her opponent down with a series of pin-point forehands and a howitzer of a serve, her fastest of the semi-final, secures three match points... And a high-pitch scream from the American indicates Serena has won a one-sided match with a second serve ace.

  3.  
    *Williams 6-1 5-2 Errani

    Williams has barely broken into a sweat in this match. The fourth seed unleashes winner after winner, her forehand this time taking her to match point. A brief reprieve for Errani as Williams finds the tape and the Italian dispatches of a careless Williams drop shot to force Serena to serve for the match.

  4.  
    Williams 6-1 5-1 Errani*

    Should Williams win this tournament she will join an elite group of five women to have won the US Open four times in the Open era. Serena holds with a cool ace and is a game away from victory.

  5.  
    *Williams 6-1 4-1 Errani

    Ohhs and ahhhs from the spectators as Williams lets a 0-30 lead slip, but the Wimbledon champion makes a rare foray to the net and dispatches an irretrievable backhand volley for two break points. Williams, who has lost merely 18 games in this tournament, grabs her chance and is sauntering towards the final.

  6.  
    Williams 6-1 3-1 Errani*

    Azarenka, who has already booked her place in the final, is probably already starting to do her homework on Williams. A masterclass in serving from Serena as a hat-trick of aces - six in this match so far from her - nudges her further ahead.

  7.  
    *Williams 6-1 2-1 Errani

    Every Errani point being cheered by an otherwise silent crowd. The Italian manages to get the better of the 13-time Grand Slam champion, a forehand winner securing her a comfortable service game.

  8.  
    Williams 6-1 2-0 Errani*

    The 30-year-old Williams races ahead to 40-15 and when a lunging Errani only manages to direct a forehand into the tape victory, even at this early stage of the second set, almost seems inevitable.

  9.  
    *Williams 6-1 1-0 Errani

    Errani and the umpire exchange words over a disputed challenge. Williams, who has lost just one match since her first-round exit at the French Open, isn't budging from the baseline but who needs variety when you're collecting break points with such regularity. Errani saves three break points, but a thunderous forehand from Williams, her 22nd winner of the match, followed by a crosscourt backhand winner ensures Serena nicks the game.

  10.  
    Williams 6-1 Errani*

    Errani is a tad more competitive from the baseline, but her efforts aren't enough to trouble Williams as the three-time champion ratchets two set points, clinching the set in just over 30 minutes with a marvellous backhand winner into the corner.

  11.  
    *Williams 5-1 Errani

    Errani would struggle to match an in form Williams even with doubles partner and compatriot Roberta Vinci by her side. The Italian's first serve forces Williams on the back foot for a first game point of the match, but Williams's riposte is to nonchalantly club a forehand winner. Errani however, much to the delight of the crowd, eventually holds for her first game of the match.

  12.  
    Williams 5-0 Errani*

    Williams's tennis, as well as her resplendent pink dress, catching the eye at the moment. The fourth seed sends an ace out into the wings and is a game away from the set after merely 21 minutes.

  13.  
    *Williams 4-0 Errani

    Williams has dropped just the one set in her three previous meetings against Errani, with two of those matches occurring on hard courts. Serena, standing inside the baseline and returning the Errani serves with ease, is soon at break point. The 10th seed saves. But a sumptuous backhand followed by an equally delicious forehand winner clinches a double break for Williams. Easy.

  14.  
    Williams 3-0 Errani*

    The 5ft 4in Italian must start moving her opponent around the court if she is to have any chance in this match. Williams, at the moment, overpowering Errani, who undercooks an attempted volley to present Williams with straight-forward hold.

  15.  
    *Williams 2-0 Errani

    Patience is a virtue for Serena as the fourth seeds brings a lengthy rally to a halt with a rasping backhand winner down the line for break point. The American fails to capitalise, but soon ratchets a second break point with a crunching winner and then finds the line with another booming forehand to seal an early break. Oh, and live coverage of this match is under way on 5 live sports extra so do tune in. If you want to, that is.

  16.  
    Williams 1-0 Errani*

    Errani, enjoying her the best year of her career at Flushing Meadows, steals one point from Williams but that's the best she can do as sends a return long for a comfortable Williams hold. Oddly, the crowd are silent.

  17. 2253: 

    Both players head to their chairs after the warm-up. Williams sips on an energy drink before wiping her forehead with a fluffy white towel. Errani is up on the baseline in good time and is ready to face one of the greatest serves in the history of the women's game.

  18. 2246: 

    Errani, contesting her first US Open semi-final, is another player who is forced to answer a few questions before trotting onto the court. "Of course I'm excited," says the Italian. "I know it will be a tough match but I will try my best, as always. I will try to focus on my game and that's it."

  19. 2245: 

    No rest for the tennis fan as Serena Williams's semi-final against Sara Errani is next. The Wimbledon champion is aiming to reach her sixth US Open final and with a sizeable section of the stadium expected to urge the American on, Williams starts as many people's favourite. My favourite? Oh, impartiality is my middle name.

  20. 2239: 

    World number one Victoria Azarenka: "Maria is such a great player. I knew she would come out firing and she did. She didn't give me any opportunities to get into the match. I had to find my rhythm and fight with all my heart. I was trying not to focus on the score and just give whatever it takes. I knew my opponent would play hard, and I wanted to play harder, give it my all. I will definitely watch it [the second semi-final] but I know both players well. It will be an exciting match. Either are extremely tough. It will be my first final but I'm very excited."

  21. 2235: 

    Azarenka failed to produce an ace during that two-hour-and-42-minute encounter and only managed 19 winners, while Sharapova unleashed a whopping 44. However, the world number one made far fewer unforced errors (Azarenka 19; Sharapova 42) and won more points on her first serve (Azarenka 73%; Sharapova 64%).

  22. 2228: 
    Champagne moment

    Azarenka becomes the first top seed since Justine Henin in 2007 to reach the US Open final. The Belgian went on to win the title. The Belarusian drops her racquet and shakes her head in disbelief before celebrating with a Charleston-esque dance.

  23.  
    GAME, SET AND MATCH- Azarenka 3-6 6-2 6-4 Sharapova

    Azarenka quickly gets into position on the baseline, swinging from side to side, in preparation for the Sharapova serve. The Russian gives the impression that she can't cope with the enormity of the task ahead of her as she allows Azarenka to race to 0-30, before dragging herself back into contention at 30-30. Thunderous applause erupts around Arthur Ashe as Azarenka earns a match point, but she squanders her opportunity with a forehand into the tramlines. Another match point... and this time Sharapova crumbles by sending a forehand beyond the baseline.

  24.  
    Azarenka 3-6 6-2 5-4 Sharapova*

    The camera captures Azarenka's coach frantically chewing gum while watching his protege ease to within a game of reaching her first US Open final after a hold to 15. Over to you, Maria.

  25.  
    *Azarenka 3-6 6-2 4-4 Sharapova

    The grunts and the fire-alarm shrieks reach ear-splitting level as the match moves ever closer to 'squeaky bum time'. Fortune favours Sharapova. She gets away with a forehand which seemed to have bounce long, but Azarenka is testing the Russian's mettle, forcing the game to deuce, before an eighth ace of the match helps Sharapova over the line.

  26.  
    Azarenka 3-6 6-2 4-3 Sharapova*

    The pressure is immediately heaped back on Sharapova's slender shoulders as Azarenka once again nudges ahead after a comfortable service game.

  27.  
    *Azarenka 3-6 6-2 3-3 Sharapova

    Sharapova, whose average groundstroke speed, at 70mph, is apparently two mph quicker than Azarenka's, was in control at 40-0 but the Russian, who seems the more likely of the two to wilt, is dragged to deuce thanks to sublime returning by the world number one. The inconsistent third seed throws in a double fault and an ace before restoring parity.

    Our 5 live colleagues have now switched their radio commentary to 5 live sports extra so retune your wireless to listen to Jonathan Overend and co wax lyrical about this enthralling match.

  28.   
    Jonathan Overend, BBC tennis correspondent at Flushing Meadows

    "44 mins ago, Azarenka levelled at 1-all. Only had 5 games since. Fine rallies and long games.. Sharapova, one senses, clinging on.."

  29.  
    Azarenka 3-6 6-2 3-2 Sharapova*

    Sharapova reins in Azarenka with two picture-perfect overhead volleys for 40-30 and the 25-year-old French Open champion musters the strength of a 100 hungry bears (slight exaggeration, I know) to unleash a bulldozing forehand into the corner for deuce. Azarenka, unruffled, wriggles free and another epic game ends in the server's favour.

  30.  

    Tennis coach Nick Bollettieri on BBC Radio 5 live web-only commentary: "I'm supposed to be having dinner with my daughter tonight. I may have to miss that because I'm not leaving before the end of this match!"

  31.  
    *Azarenka 3-6 6-2 2-2 Sharapova

    Kim Clijsters was the last player to beat Sharapova after the Russian had won the first set. That was back in August 2010. Can Azarenka ruin that delightful stat? The world number one is attempting to turn the screw. Sharapova, rooted to the baseline, is off target with two simple forehands for two break points, but the third seed's serve comes to her rescue. Another forehand into the tramlines earns Azarenka a third break point, but this time it's Sharapova's backhand which stifles Azarenka and the Russian ends a delightful game with a booming ace.

  32.  

    Shohidur Rahman ‏on Twitter: "How are people watching Azarenka v Sharapova? The decibel level is ridiculously high and both bring shame to the women's game."

  33.  
    Azarenka 3-6 6-2 2-1 Sharapova*

    Azarenka is targeting the Sharapova backhand and it pays dividends for the Belarusian who concludes the game with a rare foray into the net, forcing the under pressure Sharapova to plonk a forehand into the net.

  34.  

    Daily Mail tennis correspondent Mike Dickson on Twitter at Flushing Meadows: "Azarenka and Sharapova - superb competitors but you've got to be a dedicated fan or stone deaf to endure the acoustics."

  35.  
    *Azarenka 3-6 6-2 1-1 Sharapova

    Sharapova is seeing a mirror image of herself across the net, with both players hitting the fluffy yellow ball with such venom that it nearly spontaneously combust. Sharapova seems to be in trouble at 30-30 as she is forced to stretch for a single-handed backhand but Azarenka, with the court at her mercy, lazily nets and after toing and froing at deuce Sharapova holds and celebrates with a stentorian roar.

  36.  
    Azarenka 3-6 6-2 1-0 Sharapova*

    Azarenka is the first to return and decides to practise her serve while waiting for her nemesis. A stern-looking Sharapova eventually appears after a 10-minute break and soon finds herself facing a barrage of brutal groundstrokes from the baseline and Azarenka comfortably holds.

  37. 2117: 

    Sharapova trots off the court and Azarenka quickly follows her. The duo probably heading to the locker room to check the score of Wales's World Cup qualifier with Belgium. A deserved breather for the duo who will hopefully return soon. Wales losing 1-0, by the way, while England are 4-0 ahead against Moldova.

  38.   
    Jonathan Overend, BBC tennis correspondent at Flushing Meadows

    "One set all between Sharapova and Azarenka. 6/7 games for Vika from a break down. Some furious hitting. Commentary on @BBCSport website"

  39.  

    Tennis coach Nick Bollettieri on BBC Radio 5 live web-only commentary: "The momentum has switched to Azarenka."

  40.  
    *Azarenka 3-6 6-2 Sharapova

    Apparently, if the court thermometer rises to 32C the players can decide to take a 10-minute break. It's currently 31.2C out on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Perfect temperature for sipping an ice cold glass of lemonade on a picturesque beach but not for a Grand Slam semi-final perhaps. A puff of the cheeks from one young spectator, who looks as if she's run a marathon, suggests it's only a matter of time until the mercury hits the jackpot. Sharapova, glistening with sweat, looked in control at 40-0 but a double fault combined with an ugly drive volley gift wraps Azarenka a set point. Danger averted, but it's only a temporary reprieve as Azarenka secures the set with an irretrievable volley.

  41.  
    Azarenka 3-6 5-2 Sharapova*

    A manic roar from Azarenka as she hits a wayward forehand for 0-30. Is the Belarusian starting to crack? Sharapova, sending her opponent lunging from tramline to tramline, is controlling Azarenka like a fine puppeteer from the baseline, and the world number one - at full stretch - nets a backhand for break point. But wow! Wow! A loose-limbed forehand winner down the line from Azarenka negates Sharapova's advantage and she saves a second break point before wrapping up the game with fine play from the net.

  42.  

    British junior Liam Broady on Twitter: "One of the mentally toughest matches I've played. Felt dead after 3 games! Managed to get a set lead and slowly grind him down. #vamos"

  43.  
    *Azarenka 3-6 4-2 Sharapova

    Sharapova, groaning and grunting as if she were watching a horror movie, is having difficulty dealing with Azarenka's powerful groundstrokes, but an ace down the 'T' followed by a trademark booming backhand, which Azarenka can only net, safely sees the Russian home.

  44.  
    Azarenka 3-6 4-1 Sharapova*

    After stumbling out of the blocks, Azarenka is now in full stride and is gobbling up her opponent's slender lead at breakneck speed, squandering just the one point to comfortably hold.

  45.  
    *Azarenka 3-6 3-1 Sharapova

    A frazzled Sharapova mutters something to herself and waves her arms in the air like Kevin the teenager as Azarenka moves to 30-15. A menacing forehand from Azarenka earns the world number one a break point. The Russian goes for broke with a 104mph second serve but it fails to negotiate the tape and it's a third consecutive game for an on song Azarenka.

  46. 2042: 

    Britain's Liam Broady reaches the boys' singles semi-finals with a 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-4) victory over South Africa's Wayne Montgomery. In the last four, the Stockport left-hander will play eighth seed Kaichi Uchida of Japan.

  47.  
    Azarenka 3-6 2-1 Sharapova*

    A number of spectators are struggling in the stifling New York heat, frantically fanning themselves to keep cool, and Sharapova is now a little hot under the collar as Azarenka holds to 15 to lead for the first time in this match. Three sets anyone?

  48.  

    Tomi Margz on Twitter: "I think the thought that Azarenka will still be No1 after US Open got into Sharapova's head, and its affecting her game!"

  49.  
    *Azarenka 3-6 1-1 Sharapova

    Sharapova, contesting her 15th Grand Slam semi-final, bamboozles Azarenka with an ace down the middle and another unreturnable serve nudges the towering blonde to advantage. The four-time Grand Slam winner swings her racquet in disgust, though, as she directs a forehand into the tramlines and the game begins to unravel as a fabulous Azarenka return earns her a break point. A Sharapova forehand fails to get over the net and parity is restored.

  50.  
    Azarenka 3-6 0-1 Sharapova*

    No matter what happens in this match Azarenka will wake up on Monday morning as world number one, but the Belarusian would prefer to do so with another Grand Slam in her trophy cabinet I'm sure. If she is to reach the final Azarenka will have to defeat a player who has yet to lose a three-set match this year and her task just got tougher as Azarenka once again finds herself defending a break point. A rash forehand into the tramlines from the 23-year-old allows Sharapova to win four points on the trot to capture the opening game of the set.

  51.  

    Tennis coach Nick Bollettieri on BBC Radio 5 live web-only commentary: "Her game goes with her serve."

  52.  
    *Azarenka 3-6 Sharapova

    Sharapova is creaking like an old ship and her fifth double fault of the day allows Azarenka to effortlessly ease to 30-15. A rash forehand into the tramlines brings up two break points - but danger is averted as two Azarenka forehands bounce beyond the baseline. Set point Sharapova... but the Russian can only find the tape with an attempted crosscourt forehand. Set point numero deux - boom - secured with an ace down the middle.

  53.  
    Azarenka 3-5 Sharapova*

    The Belarusian's first serve percentage isn't quite as high as she'd want it to be, but Sharapova's backhand is faltering and that allows Azarenka to hold to 15. Is that the sound of the tide turning I can hear?

  54.  
    *Azarenka 2-5 Sharapova

    Sharapova, the Olympic silver medallist, gambles by attempting a second serve ace and double faults to lose her chips and award her opponent a break point. Azarenka doesn't have to do much to make the most of her opportunity as the third seed double faults again to tamely gift the world number one her first break of serve. Sharapova, though, has one more ace up her sleeve in this set.

  55.  

    Tennis coach Nick Bollettieri on BBC Radio 5 live web-only commentary: "The big question is whether Azarenka can come back. Maria couldn't do it in Australia - can Victoria today?"

  56.  
    Azarenka 1-5 Sharapova*

    The 23-year-old Azarenka is struggling to find the target with her first serves and Sharapova makes mince meat of her second serves. A swinging forehand volley earns Sharapova three break points and, once again, Azarenka's responds by double faulting. She has double faulted in every service game so far, which isn't really the way to get to a Grand Slam final.

  57.  
    *Azarenka 1-4 Sharapova

    That's how you do it! Sharapova classily holds to love with a nonchalant backhand lob which forces Azarenka to turn on her heels and look on in vain.

  58. 2005: 

    Earlier today, Bob and Mike Bryan lifted a record-equalling 12th Grand Slam men's doubles title with victory over Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek at the US Open.

    The second-seeded American brothers won 6-3 6-4 to go level with Australia's John Newcombe and Tony Roche as the most successful duo of all time.

    It is a record for the Open Era, moving the Bryans one major win clear of Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde.

  59.  
    Azarenka 1-3 Sharapova*

    The pair have met in three finals this year, with Azarenka coming out on top twice - at the Australian Open and in Indian Wells. Azarenka is currently struggling with serve, but she wriggles free from deuce and clenches her fist and yells "come on" as her opponent nets a return. The world number one finally troubles the scoreboard!

  60.  

    Times tennis correspondent Neil Harman on Twitter at Flushing Meadows: "This reminds me of the start of the Australian Open final. Azarenka couldn't get on the board, then ripped through."

  61.  
    *Azarenka 0-3 Sharapova

    Sharapova's forehand is on song, while Azarenka's radar is malfunctioning at the moment. A forehand winner down the line helps the Russian - aiming for her eighth final of the year - consolidate her break and the third seed is out of the blocks like a whippet.

  62.   
    Jonathan Overend, BBC tennis correspondent at Flushing Meadows

    "Live #USOpen radio coverage from Flushing Meadows. BBC Sport website right now. #sharapova #azarenka"

  63. 1952: 

    By the way, Saturday's schedule is hot off the press and British hopeful Andy Murray will be in action on Arthur Ashe Stadium against sixth seed Tomas Berdych at about 1600 BST. Second seed Novak Djokovic and fourth seed David Ferrer will follow the duo, while the women's final is expected to start at 0000BST. It's going to be a long, but wonderful, day.

  64.  
    Azarenka 0-2 Sharapova*

    Azarenka, radioactive yellow shoelaces to match her top and sweatband, quickly finds her groove to ease to 30-15, but Sharapova ups the ante, and the grunt-o-meter, with a blistering forehand winner. That, followed a wild forehand from Azarenka, gifts Sharapova break point and the world number one meekly surrenders with a double fault.

  65.  

    Tennis coach Nick Bollettieri on BBC Radio 5 live web-only commentary: "If Sharapova serves well this will be a tight match. In the long run, if it comes down to nerves, we have to give it to Sharapova."

  66.  
    *Azarenka 0-1 Sharapova

    A scorching afternoon in New York but there seems to be a cool breeze swirling around Arthur Ashe Stadium. Azarenka, the first Belarusian to reach the semi-finals of the US Open, scoots to the net but Sharapova makes the world number one look a tad flat-footed and disorientates Azarenka with a venomous winner. It's a steady hold to 15 for the French Open champion. No drama to report. Yet.

  67. 1944: 

    Azarenka, black skirt flittering in the wind, gambols to the baseline and is ready to face Sharapova's booming serves. They're ready. We're ready. Let's go.

  68. 1943: 

    You can listen to 5 live commentary (web only) of the two semi-finals on this very site and while you're listening and reading, and doing a hundred other things, don't forget to tweet us your musings, or interesting tales even, using the hashtag #bbctennis or text 81111. Who will be the two women contesting Saturday night's final? How can Sharapova outfox Azarenka? So many questions.

  69. 1940: 

    Sharapova and Azarenka are currently limbering up on Arthur Ashe Stadium but before they emerged to warm applause they were stopped in their tracks to answer a few questions. Insightful answers they were not, but no-one is going to be a brilliant raconteur ahead of their Grand Slam semi-final match.

    "I've enjoyed these last two weeks.," said Sharapova. "I'm really excited about today. It's always a tough match. This is the semi-final of the US Open."

    Azarenka, meanwhile, admitted she had to cope with more attention and expectation since becoming world number one. "I just try to do my job as best as I can," she said. "I just have to play every ball and fight as hard as you can because Maria is a great champion."

  70. 1935: 

    A wise old man told me on the tram into work tonight that Friday nights and tennis go together like fish and chips or Bodger and Badger. Never doubt a wise man. Here's a titbit to whet your tennis appetite: Australian Open champion Azarenka is attempting to reach her first US Open final while her opponent is aiming for a third Grand Slam final of the year. All true.

  71. 1931: 

    In the first semi, French Open champion Sharapova will attempt to avenge her defeat by world number one Azarenka in January's Australian Open final. The Russian was outplayed in straight sets as the pride of Belarus performed brilliantly on Rod Laver Arena. Can Azarenka replicate the dazzling form she displayed in Melbourne? I've no idea but we're about to find out.

  72. 1925: 

    One evening. Two tennis semi-finals. A marvellous two for one. First we have the scream queens Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova scrapping for a place in the US Open final. A hearty feast on a normal day, but tonight the duo are the aperitif before Wimbledon champion Serena Williams takes on French Open finalist Sara Errani. Thank you for joining us on women's semi-final day.

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