NEW YORK - Normally so good, so gritty, in the crucible of the third set, Maria Sharapova finally met her match against Victoria Azarenka.
Coming all the way back from a set and a break down, the top-seeded Azarenka prevailed in a stirring third, beating four-time major champion Sharapova 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 to reach her first U.S. Open final.
Entering Friday, Sharapova was 12-0 in three-setters this year, and had won 78 consecutive matches in which she took the opening set. But Azarenka broke in the last game to push her own 2012 record to 12-0 in matches that went the distance.
On Saturday, in Australian Open champion Azarenka's second major final of the season - and career - she will face Serena Williams or 10th-seeded Sara Errani of Italy.