Iga Swiatek became the first Polish woman to reach the US Open final on Thursday as she twice came from a break down in the final set to defeat Aryna Sabalenka 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.
The two-time Roland Garros champion will play for the title on Saturday against Ons Jabeur, who was impeccable in a 6-1, 6-3 hammering of Cincinnati winner Carolina Garcia, winner of her last 13 matches.
Swiatek handed Sabalenka another heartbreak as the sixth seed collapsed in the third set of a Grand Slam semi for the third time – twice when she held leads.
Swiatek came from 4-2 down in the closing stages and swept the final four games of the match, winning in two and a quarter hours.
Sabalenka committed more than 40 unforced errors while Swiatek had 31 winners and 24 errors.
The winner took a bathroom break after losing the first set and re-set before coming out strong.
“I used my time to think of what to change – when I was younger I used to cry in there,” the 21-year-old said.
“Now I can think and problem-solve. I knew it would be a tough match. I needed go be careful, I wasn’t expecting too much from myself
“I was not sure if I could break her back. But I’m happy I was able to play so solid and keep focus.”
Sabalenka broke three times to claim the opening set against the world No. 1 in 41 minutes despite striking 14 unforced errors to the 13 of Swiatek.
The Pole struck back immediately, beginning the second set with a break of her opponent to love.
Swiatek built on her lead with two more breaks to level the match at a set apiece on a first set point.
Garcia went down in a quick 66 minute to this summer’s Wimbledon runner-up Jabeur.
“I know she was very confident so I had to really impose my game from the beginning,” the winner said.
“It was working very well throughout the match.”
She said her experience at the Wimbledon final against Elena Rybakin gave her an edge against Garcia.
“I’m just happy the fact that I backed up the results in Wimbledon and people are not really surprised I’m in the finals.
“Now maybe I know what to do in the finals. I know it’s going to be very difficult, but I’m going to have to do my best now.”
Jabeur won seven of the first eight games as she imposed her game on the flailing Frenchwoman and did not let up as she raced to victory.
The Tunisian produced eight aces among her 21 winners while Garcia was limited to a dozen winners.
“The beginning of the match was not great,” Garcia said. “I made a few mistakes in important points.
“The arms and the legs were not moving great. If I’m a little bit slower or if I don’t go for my shot, mistakes can come very quickly.
“I tried the best I could. I kept fighting, kept going for it, that’s my way to do things.”