NEW YORK — Sam Stosur told her parents she wasn't leaving for school until Patrick Rafter won the U.S. Open.
Growing up in Australia, Stosur was glued to the TV when her countryman captured titles in 1997 and '98. Now she wonders if kids back home will do the same when she plays Serena Williams for the Open championship Sunday.
The 27-year-old Stosur reached her second major final Saturday, her experience showing in a three-set victory over 92nd-ranked Angelique Kerber.
The ninth-seeded Aussie won 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 in a semifinal that would have seemed overshadowed by the Williams-Caroline Wozniacki tilt even if it weren't relegated to the Grandstand.
The 2010 French Open runner-up, Stosur had two record-setting three-set wins earlier in the tournament, so this 1-hour, 46-minute match seemed like a breeze in comparison. She went up 5-0 in the final set, then was broken when she first tried to serve out the match.
The second time, Stosur had to save four break points before finally clinching victory with an emphatic backhand volley.
Stosur lost a tight 6-4, 7-6 (2) final to Francesca Schiavone at Roland Garros last year, wasting a break point in the second set.
"It had never happened up until that point, so you never know if it is going to happen again," she said. "Multiple people came up to me and said, 'You're gonna get another chance. You can come back and make it again.' Of course you want to believe that, but until it happens, you never know if that's the case."
Kerber had never been past the third round of a Grand Slam before this tournament. The German still hasn't beaten a top-10 opponent – she hadn't faced any player ranked better than No. 13 in her run at the Open.
Stosur needed 3 hours, 16 minutes to win in the third round against Nadia Petrova 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 7-5 – the longest women's match at the Open since the advent of the tiebreaker in 1970. Two days later, Stosur was part of the longest tiebreaker in a women's Grand Slam, beating Maria Kirilenko 6-2, 6-7 (15), 6-3.
This semifinal wasn't on the center court of Arthur Ashe Stadium because rain delays meant there were four singles matches Saturday instead of the normal three. It had to be played in Flushing Meadows' third-largest venue because of water on the court at Louis Armstrong Stadium.
Stosur and Kerber pleaded with tournament officials that their match belonged on Ashe, to no avail.
"I think it was not fair for us that the semifinal of the Grand Slam is on the Grandstand," Kerber said.
She still felt a bit overwhelmed in the setting – under the lights and in front of a packed house as fans with tickets to the night session waited for the men's matches to end so they could get into Ashe.