Top seed Serena Williams sets up world number two Victoria Azaarenka in her seventh US Open finals at Flushing Meadows.
Belarusian Azarenka beat Italy’s Flavia Pannetta 6-4, 6-2, on the Arthur Arshe Stadium on Friday.
Serena needed seven match points to cruise past China’s Li Na 6-0, 6-3, to set up a rematch of 2012 US Open final, where she emerged victorious.
“It was a good match,” said Williams. “Li Na is such a great player. I got a little nervous but I was able to close it out finally.”
The 31-year-old American has dropped just 16 games in six rounds at this year’s event.
Williams returned a distinctive percentage of Li Na’s characteristic aces serves in the first set while an early double fault from the Chinese 5th seed stole her confidence, going on to lose in 29 minutes.
When Williams dropped serve in the following game for only the second time in the tournament, the huge crowd cheer suggested the American crowd appreciated just what the Chinese player was up against.
But the defending champion took the next four games in a row to move one game from victory.
Li battled desperately to stay alive in a 15-minute final game, saving six match points but Williams converted her seventh chance with a first serve to proceed into the final.
In the first semi-final of the day, Azarenka’s 18 unforced errors in the opening set undermined her form ahead of another dream final against the best player in the world, but she managed to hang on to victory when serving for it in a tight 10th game.
She returned to her comfort zone in the second and raced into a 3-1 lead with a succession of fantastic forehands, rounded off with a thumping drive volley.
Pannetta broke back to reduce the deficit to 4-2 but once again failed to defend her own, hence, couldn’t stop the Belarusian from serving out the match.
“I’m happy I’m in the final,” said Azarenka. “There are always things that can be better. I felt like the first set was a little bit tricky, the momentum wasn’t there a little bit.
“Just one shot wasn’t working and threw my rhythm a little bit