By Molly McElwee, in New York
Aryna Sabalenka completed an epic comeback over American Madison Keys to reach her maiden US Open final.
Sabalenka – who is guaranteed to become the world No 1 on Monday – was brutally bagelled in the first set after Keys had a flawless opening set. Sabalenka also trailed 5-3 in the second but somehow fought her way back. Keys, 28, was a finalist in New York six years ago so had been in this situation before. But when she served for the match, she bottled it and was broken to love by a resurgent Sabalenka who went on to win the second set.
The Belarusian dialed back into the match and pushed it to a deciding set 10-point tiebreak. Amid the tension, there was then a comical moment as Sabalenka dropped her racket in celebration when she led 7-3, believing she had won the match. But when she was reminded it was a 10-point tiebreak - rather than seven - she laughed, red-faced. She then had to hold her nerve to serve it out, winning 0-6,7-6, 7-6 in two hours and 32 minutes.
“I thought that we played the tiebreak up to seven, I don’t know. I was just all over the place,” Sabalenka, 25, said in her on-court interview. “But thanks team for reminding me it’s up to 10. I’m really happy I was able to finish this match. She played incredible tennis, it was just another level. Somehow, I don’t know how I turned it around, how I won it. It means so much to me.”