UPDATE 2-Tennis-Stosur beats Kerber to reach U.S. Open final
* Stosur battles nerves to reach maiden U.S. Open final
* First Australian woman in 34 years to reach final (Adds quotes and detail)
NEW YORK, Sept 10 (Reuters) - Sam Stosur survived a late fightback from unseeded German Angelique Kerber to win their semi-final 6-3 2-6 6-2 on Saturday and give rise to Australian hopes of a long-overdue U.S. Open female winner.
Stosur, one of the most powerful hitters in the women's game, regained her composure after dropping the second set and failing to serve out the match at the first attempt.
The 27-year-old Queenslander held her nerves to become the first Australian to reach the U.S. Open women's final since Wendy Turnbull in 1977, seven years before Stosur was born and a year before the tournament was moved from Forest Hills to the current site at Flushing Meadows.
"It's a dream come true. This is something I've wanted to do since I first started playing tennis," Stosur said.
"I have been playing for nearly 20 years now, so it's been a long run to try and get to this point."
Kerber, playing in her first grand slam semi-final, started nervously but forced a decisive third set after taking control of the second but was unable to stay with Stosur in the third, as the ninth seed raised her game and raced to a 5-0 lead.
"The first few games were too fast for me. I come out there and it was everything new for me, so many people and the lights," said Kerber, ranked 92nd in the world.
"I tried everything I could. It was a great tournament for me. It's one of the highlights of my career."
Stosur, who had a rollercoaster ride to the semis, blew her first chance to serve it out as Kerber broke then held her own serve to give herself a glimmer of hope but Stosur finished her off in the next game, raising her arms in jubilation.
She was involved in the longest women's match ever played at the U.S. Open when she beat Russia's Nadia Petrova in the third round, lasting more than three and a quarter hours.
Then, in her fourth round clash with another Russian, Maria Kirilenko, she played the longest tiebreaker in a women's match at any grand slam. She lost the 32-point tiebreaker but won the match.
Stosur had two days off to recharge her batteries before playing world number two Vera Zvonareva, yet another Russian, but showed what she is capable of with a ruthless 6-3 6-3 win before stumbling briefly against Kerber.
"In the second set she was really dictating play before I could but in the third set I just tried to settle down and concentrate on my own game plan," Stosur said. "It's always tough to serve a match but having a 5-0 buffer helps."
The last Australian woman to win the U.S. Open was Margaret Court in 1973, while the last to win any grand slam was Evonne Goolagong-Cawley at Wimbledon in 1980.
Stosur, who was better known as a doubles player until 2007 when she returned to the game after a 10-month absence from Lyme disease, has emerged as Australia's best prospect to end the drought. She made the final at the French Open last year but lost to Italy's Francesca Schiavone.
"Obviously I went through those records when the French Open happened. Now it's kind of that same thing all over again," Stosur said. "It would be fantastic if I could do that and break that drought and set a new record."
Stosur's match against Kerber was a victim of the schedule change and was moved from Arthur Ashe Stadium to Grandstand, a much smaller showcourt, after the Louis Armstrong Stadium was declared unsuitable because of water leaks.
"I wasn't too impressed with the scheduling the way everything had turned out," said Stosur, who has not played a single match on Arthur Ashe Stadium in the tournament.
"I understand it's a tricky situation, but I think things could have been done a little bit differently.
"Grandstand is a fantastic court it was a great atmosphere out there and I loved every second of it but that wasn't the point." (Editing by Frank Pingue; To query or comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org)
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