Flushing Meadows, NY (Sports Network) - For the second time in two years the womens final at the U.S. Open will pit world No. 1 Serena Williams against former top-ranked star Victoria Azarenka. Williams overcame Azarenka in three sets in last years high-quality finale in New York City. In Fridays semifinal nightcap, the top-seeded Williams whipped fifth-seeded Chinese star and fellow 31-year-old Li Na 6-0, 6-3, while the first semi on Day 12 saw the second-seeded Azarenka defeat unseeded Italian Flavia Pennetta 6-4, 6-2 at Ashe Stadium. Williams took the first set at love in a mere 29 minutes against an overwhelmed Li on Day 12. The Chinese star improved in the second set, as she broke Williams for a short-lived 2-1 lead. But Williams righted the ship by breaking right back on her way to a commanding 5-2 lead. Williams and Li battled in a brilliant eighth game in the second, as the Chinese veteran saved a whopping six match points on her serve. But the match came to an end in the next game, as Williams served her way into the final, converting on a seventh match point when Li netted one final forehand return. "It was tough at the end," Williams said. "I got a little bit nervous, but I was able to close it out finally." Williams needed 1 hour, 27 minutes to move on, as she broke Li five times while coughing up her serve only once. The high-flying Williams improved to 9-1 lifetime against Li, including a perfect 4-0 mark in Grand Slam action. The former French Open titlist Li was this years Australian Open runner-up to the two-time reigning Melbourne champion Azarenka. Shes now 3-2 in her career Grand Slam semis, with Friday marking her one at the U.S. Open. The amazing Williams will now play in her 21st career Grand Slam final, seeking a 17th major title. She owns 54 career titles overall on the WTA circuit, including eight already in 2013. She was the French Open champion in June and currently holds half the major titles. Williams is 4-2 in her U.S. Open finals, but has never titled back-to-back in Flushing. Shes now 71-9 overall at the Open. The powerful American is a sizzling 66-4 overall this year. Meanwhile, the Belarusian stalwart Azarenka needed six set points and 52 minutes to win the first set against the 83rd-ranked Pennetta. The second set, however, was another story, as Azarenka cruised through that one in 42 minutes. Serving for the match, Azarenka converted on her third match point with a solid forehand winner. The shrieking Belarusian broke her Italian counterpart eight times, while Pennetta tallied five breaks in a losing effort. The slightly off Azarenka prevailed despite committing 25 unforced errors while striking only 15 winners and improving to a tour-best 31-1 on hardcourts this year. "It was a little bit tricky," Azarenka said. "I couldnt find my rhythm at the beginning. I felt I was rushing too much. I couldnt really put the ball in play. Its good I stayed tough, played well in the return game at important moments." The 31-year-old Pennetta is a former top-10 star who was playing in her first- ever Grand Slam semi. Shes reached at least the quarterfinals in four of her last five trips to New York. The Italian missed last years Open due to a wrist injury. Azarenka is now 2-1 lifetime against Pennetta, who was the first-ever Italian woman to crack the WTAs top 10 back 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. Shes 17-13 in her career finals overall, including 3-2 this season. Azarenka has now reached four of the last eight womens Grand Slam finals. Williams is 12-3 lifetime against Azarenka, but the Belarusian has won two of their three meetings this year -- all in finals. The American great, however, is a dominant 7-0 in their career Grand Slam matchups. The 2013 womens U.S. Open champ will earn $2.6 million. 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Next week, hell try to add to the list. A Stanley Cup champion as a rookie, Seguin followed that up by becoming the youngest player to lead the Boston Bruins in scoring. Patric Hornqvist Penguins Jersey . 28 with a Vancouver entry for the first time in 10 years and a novel new collective bargaining agreement.NEW YORK -- Yankees manager Joe Girardi says hell talk to Mariano Rivera in the off-season about whether the New York Yankees closer definitely wants to retire. Girardi told ESPNNewYork.com on Tuesday that he thought Rivera could still be a very effective closer next year. Girardi said hell advise baseballs career saves leader to take a month or two this winter to make sure he wants to walk away from the game even though hes stayed healthy all year. The 43-year-old Rivera announced his plans to retire during spring training and has been on something of a farewell tour around the majors all season. He insisted hes made his decision. "I told you guys already. I dont know why were talking about this," Rivera said. Girardi was asked about his comments after Rivera earned his 40th save in New Yorks 6-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox. The manager said hes not lobbying Rivera to return, he would simply be offering the perspective of a former player who retired at 39 because of aches and pains. Girardi said he knows its difficult for an older player to attempt a comeback after hanging up his spikes, so he thinks it would be wise for Rivera to know for sure. "I think its importannt that you let a player get away for a while and see what that feeling is when youre away from the game a month, two months, and to see if that feeling changes.dddddddddddd Because its hard to come back once you leave," Girardi said. Rivera struck out two of his three batters Tuesday night to reach 40 saves for the ninth time. That ties Trevor Hoffman for the major league record. "I never wanted to think that, could I have played a little bit more? And it was really evident for me because I physically couldnt stay healthy. Mo has seemed to be pretty healthy this year," Girardi said. "Its just a man whos retired talking to another man whos thinking about retiring. Just telling him my feelings on it, its not me lobbying him to come back. "As Ive said all along, Ive never wanted a player to come back if he doesnt want to come back. Because I want to make sure that his hearts right when its time. I believe hes going to retire, but as Ive said, sometimes as a player when youre in the midst of a season and youre grinding it out, your mind is one thing, and when you get away for a couple of months and your body feels pretty good, your mind is another thing." ' ' '