Aryna Sabalenka reached her first US Open final by edging Madison Keys 0-6, 7-6 (1), 7-6 (10-5) on Thursday night.
The second-seeded Sabalenka will face No. 6-seeded Coco Gauff on Saturday.
The Australian Open champion had been just 1-5 in Grand Slam semifinals, including losses the last two years in the round in New York.
But she won this one by taking the two tiebreakers by a combined 17-6. She had to regroup in the second one after mistakenly thinking she had won it after her seventh point, momentarily forgetting the tiebreakers in decisive sets go to 10.
Sabalenka, the 25-year-old from Belarus, is already assured of rising to the top of the women’s rankings even if she loses.
It appeared that’s what she was going to do Thursday when the 17th-seeded Keys rolled to the first set in just 30 minutes and led 5-3 in the second.
Early in that second set, after getting broken, Sabalenka went over to the corner near her guest box and slammed her racket on a towel box. Then she chucked her racket toward her entourage, but it didn’t quite reach them and landed on the court.
“I don’t know, actually, how I turned around this match,” Sabalenka said.
Keys was trying for a second trip to the U.S. Open final, where she lost to Sloane Stephens in 2017.
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