NEW YORK (AP) — Ekaterina Makarova reached her first Grand Slam semifinal, beating Victoria Azarenka in straight sets Wednesday at the U.S. Open.
The 26-year-old Russian won 6-4, 6-2 after losing her previous four major quarterfinals.
"I'm feeling amazing," she said. "Finally, I'm in a semifinal."
Azarenka acknowledged she suffered from food poisoning the day before but didn't want to talk about how it might have affected her. Unusually subdued for most of the match, she smashed her racket after one of her 27 unforced errors gave Makarova a break and a 4-2 lead in the second set.
"I'm not going to make any excuses," she said. "I did the best I could today. I want to give full credit to my opponent. She deserves to win. She played much better than me today."
The players were 16th and 17th in the seedings but came in with very different resumes. Azarenka is a two-time Australian Open champion who lost to Serena Williams in the last two U.S. Open finals.
Yet in some ways, falling short of the semifinals Wednesday would have been more distressing for Makarova, who lost to Lucie Safarova in straight sets in the Wimbledon quarters this summer.
When she arrived at Flushing Meadows, Azarenka had played just eight matches since the Australian Open because of foot and knee injuries, her ranking plunging. She got to take the court five times here, a huge help to rediscovering her rhythm.
"I can take positive from this tournament," Azarenka said. "Two months ago, I didn't even think that I was going to be able to play."
But she had often looked shaky against qualifier Aleksandra Krunic in the fourth round before eking out a three-set victory, and on Wednesday, Makarova took full advantage of Azarenka's mistakes.
Makarova was coming off a straight-set upset of Wimbledon runner-up Eugenie Bouchard. Against Azarenka, the lefty's deep groundstrokes kept on the pressure.
Down an early break in the first set, Makarova immediately broke back and looked sharp the rest of the way. She has yet to drop a set at Flushing Meadows.
Her semifinal opponent could be Williams. The two-time defending champ faces 11th-seeded Flavia Pennetta to open the night session at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray take the court after that for a rematch of the 2012 U.S. Open final. Stan Wawrinka was playing Kei Nishikori in the other men's quarterfinal Wednesday afternoon.