US Open 2013: Victoria Azarenka to take on Flavia Pennetta in last four

Azarenka beat Daniela Hantuchova 6-2 6-3 to reach semi-final

Victoria Azarenka will take on Flavia Pennetta in the semi-finals of the US Open after breezing past Daniela Hantuchova.

The second seed had struggled in her previous two matches against Alize Cornet and Ana Ivanovic but she looked in better form under the lights on Arthur Ashe.

Azarenka got the better of three straight breaks of serve to start the match and pulled away to take the first set.

Hantuchova made a stronger start to the second, winning the first two games, but back came Azarenka with a run of five games in a row.

She suffered a minor blip when she was broken serving for the match, throwing in a double fault, but she hit back straight away to win 6-2 6-3 in an hour and 16 minutes.

Pennetta had earlier joined Serena Williams and Li Na in the last four by overcoming her fellow Italian Roberta Vinci 6-4 6-1.

Had Hantuchova won, all four semi-finalists would have been aged over 30.

Azarenka said: "I'm a baby, what can I say.

"It's amazing to see such great players in the semis. Flavia has been through such a lot and to see her doing so well is incredible and I can't wait to play against her.

"Everybody looks much fitter, everyone's really taking care of their bodies, and it's taken the sport to the next level."

Azarenka will be a big favourite to beat Pennetta, which could very well set up a final rematch against top seed Williams.

The pair met in a grand slam final for the first time here 12 months ago and it was a great battle, Williams eventually edging it.

Azarenka said: "I'm really excited to be in the semi-finals. New York is one of my favourite places to play. It gives me so much energy. Every time I want to go out and fight. I play like a kid here."

Pennetta continued her remarkable US Open run to reach her first grand slam singles semi-final.

The 31-year-old had made the quarter-finals in New York three times before but was well off the radar before the tournament began.

Initially, Pennetta was not even ranked highly enough to get into the main draw but crept in after a withdrawal.

The world number 83 is a former top-10 player but missed this tournament last year and the following six months because of a wrist injury.

She struggled when she returned to the tour, winning just three matches in her first seven tournaments and dropped out of the top 100.

But a run to the semi-finals in Strasbourg in May as a qualifier showed her form was coming back and she reached the fourth round at Wimbledon.

Pennetta said: "From the first day of the tournament I never thought I would be here and be talking about the semi-finals.

"I didn't play my best tennis in the last six months, and I just tried to keep working and working the same way every day.

"I'm starting to feel more my forehand, my backhand. Everything is starting to feel more normal in the way it was before the injury.

"I'm playing really good tennis here. Every day is much better. Every day was tougher and I've adjusted, tried to use everything I have and take it to the court and play my best tennis."

Pennetta had reached the last eight without dropping a set, beating fourth seed Sara Errani - another Italian - in the second round, former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in round three and in-form Simona Halep in the last 16.

Pennetta and Vinci have known each other 20 years, and Pennetta admitted that made the match more difficult.

"I felt it a lot," she said. "I think in the beginning we didn't play good tennis. I was tight, she was tight also.

"When I won the first set I just relaxed a little bit and tried to play better. But the day was tough for both of us."

It has been a terrific tournament for the Italian women, with Vinci beating qualifier Camila Giorgi in the fourth round.

Pennetta will now attempt to become the first Italian to reach a singles final at Flushing Meadows.

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention