NEW YORK – At 24 years young, Victoria Azarenka can claim something very few of the more experienced players can.
She has a formula for beating Serena Williams.
By topping Daniela Hantuchova, 6-2, 6-3, in the quarterfinals Wednesday, second-seeded Azarenka moved a win away from a possible showdown with Williams in the U.S. Open final. She also became the only woman under the age of 30 to make the final four at Flushing Meadows.
“I’m a baby, what can I say?” Azarenka said.
Azarenka is one of only three women to beat top-seeded Williams this year and is the only woman to beat her twice in 2013.
Standing in the way of a Williams-Azarenka final are fifth-seeded Li Na, who plays Williams in Friday’s semifinals, and 83rd-ranked Flavia Pennetta, who goes against Azarenka.
“She’s very good player, all-around player,” Azarenka said about Pennetta, a 6-4, 6-1 winner over Roberta Vinci earlier Wednesday. “She can do anything. She has a great touch, great variety, she can create power, create spin. I’m really looking forward to that match. It’s a big challenge.”
Li, Williams and Pennetta are all 31. Hantuchova is 30, and had she won, this would have been the first Grand Slam women’s semifinal of the Open era with all four of the semifinalists in their 30s.
Instead, there are three in their 30s for only the second time (The other: 1994 Wimbledon, with Lori McNeil, Ggi Fernandez and Martina Navratilova), with Azarenka the baby of the bunch.
“I think it’s just showing that our sport is taking physical ability to another level,” Azarenka said. “You see everybody taking care of their bodies much more, really paying attention to nutrition, fitness, everything. Everybody is working out.”