Azarenka reaches second straight U.S. Open final

Victoria Azarenka will play in her second straight U.S. Open final on Sunday.

The second-seeded former world No. 1 star defeated unseeded Italian Flavia Pennetta 6-4, 6-2 in Friday's first women's semifinal match at Ashe Stadium.

Azarenka's opponent in the championship match will be current world No. 1 and reigning U.S. Open champion Serena Williams or fifth-seeded Chinese slugger Li Na, who was January's Australian Open runner-up to the two-time reigning Melbourne titlist Azarenka. Williams overcame Azarenka in last year's blockbuster U.S. Open finale.

The Belarusian stalwart Azarenka needed six set points and 52 minutes to win the first set against Pennetta on Day 12 of this fortnight. The second set, however, was another story, as Azarenka cruised through that stanza in 42 minutes.

Serving for the match, Azarenka converted on her third match point with a solid forehand winner.

Azarenka broke Pennetta eight times, while the Italian veteran tallied five breaks in a losing effort.

The 31-year-old Pennetta is a former top-10 star who was playing in her first- ever Grand Slam semifinal. She's reached at least the quarterfinals in four of her last five trips to New York City.

Azarenka is now 2-1 lifetime against Pennetta, who was the first-ever Italian woman to crack the WTA's top 10 in 2009.

The 24-year-old Minsk native Azarenka will appear in her fourth career Grand Slam final, seeking her third title and first outside of Melbourne. She's 17-13 in her career WTA finals overall, including 3-2 this season.

Azarenka has now reached four of the last eight women's Grand Slam finals.

The 2013 women's U.S. Open champ will earn $2.6 million. Williams would claim an additional $1 million as a result of capturing the U.S. Open Series.