By Fitzgerald Cecilio

Top seed and World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus ousted defending champion Samantha Stosur of Australia, 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (5), in a rain-delayed match Tuesday to reach the semifinal of the US Open for the first time in her career.

Azarenka will play the winner between third seed Maria Sharapova of Russia and Marion Bartoli of France for a spot in the final.

The Sharapova-Bartoli match was delayed by rain together with the quarterfinal match featuring Richard Gasquet and David Ferrer, who was leading 7-5, 7-6 (2), 2-2, when play was suspended.

"I think we both showed some excellent tennis. You could feel the pressure all the time," said Azarenka, who is perfect 11-0 in three-set matches this year and a flawless 7-0 lifetime overall versus Stosur, having won 14 of 15 sets.

"We really both gave it our all, fought really hard, kept making each other run like crazy," added Azarenka, who advanced to her fourth Grand Slam career semifinal.

The victory also guarantees Azarenka's position atop the women's rankings next week.

Azarenka, the reigning Australian Open titlist, broke Stosur twice in the first three games to take a 3-0 lead before rains delayed the match for one hour. But there's no stopping Azarenka's momentum as she finished the opening set in 30 minutes.

Stosur bounced back in the second set, winning 71 percent of the points after connecting with her first serve and took advantage of her opponent's three double faults to win a set for the first time against Azarenka.

The two fought tooth and nail in the third set with Azarenka taking a 4-2 lead but Stosur recovered and tied the count at 4-4. Azarenka grabbed a 6-5 lead but Stosur once again tied the count to force tiebreak.

In the tiebreak, Azarenka raced to a 4-0 advantage but Stosur once again leveled the count at 5-5 after an impressive smash. Azarenka grabbed a 6-5 lead after a pretty drop shot before taking the victory when Stosur's backhand sailed wide, ending the set after 69 minutes of play.

In the other quarterfinal pairing Wednesday, Serena Williams will encounter 12th-seeded Ana Ivanovic of Serbia while 10th-seeded French Open runner-up Sara Errani will battle 20th-seeded doubles partner Roberta Vinci.


Azarenka Ousts Defending US Open Champion Stosur