Serena Williams came back from a set behind to beat Tsvetana Pironkova on Wednesday and advance to the US Open semifinals for the 13th time.

US Open Serena Williams Azarenka
Victoria Azarenka rolled past Elise Mertens 6-1, 6-0 to set up a US Open semifinal clash against Serena Williams. (Image: Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports)

Williams won 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 after falling behind by a break in the second set against the unseeded Pironkova.

Williams Starts Slow, Comes on Strong

The victory puts Williams just two wins away from her 24th Grand Slam title, which would tie the all-time record set by Margaret Court.

While Williams turned it on to take control of the match, she admitted that she’ll need to start stronger in order to win the title.

“In the beginning, I was a little fatigued, for whatever reason,” Williams said after the match. “Obviously, I can’t do that if I want to keep winning, so I need to figure that out.”

Williams will now face Victoria Azarenka in the US Open semifinals. Azarenka had no trouble in her quarterfinal, steamrolling over Elise Mertens 6-1, 6-0 to coast into the final four.

“I felt that I made the court really big today, which worked very well,” Azarenka said of her victory. “And I’m very happy with my movement today, I felt like there was a lot of pressure on her to make a winner.

While Azarenka is unseeded in this event, she won both the 2012 and 2013 Australian Open titles, and reached the final of the US Open in both of those years as well – only to lose to Williams on each occasion.

Azarenka Favored Over Williams After Wednesday Performance

Overall, Williams holds a commanding 18-4 lifetime record over Azarenka. But all four of Azarenka’s wins have come on hard courts, and at this stage in their careers, it’s hard to pick a favorite.

“I’m so excited about this,” Azarenka said. “It’s an amazing opportunity to play against a champion, someone who I respect a lot, who is my friend. I’m just so excited for this opportunity and I hope people are excited for this match.”

Williams opened as a slight favorite on Wednesday evening, but the odds reversed at FanDuel Sportsbook by Thursday morning. Azarenka now stands as a -134 favorite over Williams (+110).

US Open Odds: Women’s Champion

  • Naomi Osaka: +120
  • Victoria Azarenka: +270
  • Serena Williams: +350
  • Jennifer Brady: +750

Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook

The other US Open women’s semifinal also takes place on Thursday night. Naomi Osaka (-280) will come in as a significant favorite over Jennifer Brady (+210), who is looking to continue her deepest-ever run in a Grand Slam event. The 25-year-old Brady has won only one singles title in her career, and this is the first time she’s advanced past the fourth round of a Grand Slam.

As the only woman left in the field without previous Grand Slam titles, Brady stands alone as a long shot to win the 2020 US Open title. FanDuel lists Osaka as the +120 favorite, with Azarenka (+270) and Williams (+350) right in the mix, while Brady is fetching +750 odds.

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