Makarova tops Azarenka to reach U.S. open semis
By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Russian left-hander Ekaterina Makarova made her best mark in grand slam singles by outslugging Victoria Azarenka, the U.S. Open runner-up the last two years, 6-4 6-2 on Wednesday to reach the semi-finals of the U.S. Open.
The 17th-seeded Russian was steadier and more explosive with her big groundstrokes in dismissing the 16th seed from Belarus and advancing to the last four of a major for the first time after four losses in the quarter-finals stage.
Boldly going for winners at every opportunity against the former world number one, Makarova pressured Azarenka to a dozen break points and cashed in twice in each set for her victory.
"I'm feeling amazing. Finally I'm in a semi-finals, finally I’m here," the 26-year-old Makarova, who is better known for her doubles exploits, told the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd. "It’s a great feeling."
Makarova has hoisted major trophies but always as part of a partnership, as winner of the French Open doubles in 2013 with Elena Vesnina and in mixed doubles at the 2012 U.S. Open with Brazilian Bruno Soares.
The Russian, however, has thrived on her own racket in Flushing Meadows in the year's last grand slam by advancing without the loss of a set, eliminating seventh seed Eugenie Bouchard in overbearing heat in the process.
Makarova, who won her second career singles title at this year's Pattay City event in Thailand, will meet either two-time defending champion and top seed Serena Williams or 11th seed Flavia Pennetta of Italy for a berth in the final.