New York: Victoria Azarenka survived a ferocious comeback from defending champion Sam Stosur to reach the US Open semis on Tuesday as the remnants of Hurricane Isaac left tournament organisers scrambling to catch up with the playing schedule.
The eagerly anticipated quarter-final match between Maria Sharapova and Marion Bartoli was postponed until Wednesday after just four games were completed. Dozens of junior matches were also held over because of the heavy rain.
Tournament officials are still hoping to complete the four men's fourth-round matches scheduled for Tuesday but prospects were bleak with more showers forecast in the Big Apple.
Azarenka traded blows with Stosur for nearly two and a half hours on a blustery Arthur Ashe Stadium court to beat the foul weather and her opponent in a 6-1 4-6 7-6 thriller.
The world number one will play either Sharapova or Bartoli in Friday's semi-finals and will remain atop the world rankings regardless of how much further she goes in the tournament.
"It means a lot, but it's nothing like lifting a trophy," said Azarenka. "I definitely don't want to stop. I really want it bad."
For Stosur, it was a bittersweet result. The big-hitting Australian showed her surprise win here last year was no fluke and she that can match it with the best but her efforts were still in vain.
"That proves to me that I am capable of doing it," she said. "To have another showing here at the Open like this, it for sure gives me confidence to think that maybe one day I can do it again."
The match was suspended for over an hour midway through the opening set when the heavens opened and drenched Flushing Meadows. The pair returned to finish their clash but play was stopped after another downpour began and before either of the other two singles matches in action were finished.
Bartoli was leading Sharapova 4-0 while David Ferrer led Richard Gasquet 7-5 7-6 4-3 in their fourth round encounter.
Defending title holder Novak Djokovic and former champions Andy Roddick and Juan Martin del Potro are scheduled to play in the other three men's matches on Tuesday but with rain expected over the next two days, organisers are facing the likelihood of a possible backlog.
At least 30 people were killed by Hurricane Isaac during its deadly trek across the Caribbean, Louisiana and Mississippi and while the storm has weakened, rain and flash floods have been forecast for the US East Coast where the US Open is played.
In each of the last four years, the tournament has stretched into a third week because of thunderstorms, triggering an annual debate and complaints from players and paying spectators over why there is still no roof over the courts.
The centre courts at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon have retractable roofs while organisers of the French Open plan to cover up their main court by 2014.
However, the United States Tennis Association has balked at the idea because of the enormous cost of covering Arthur Ashe Stadium, the largest tennis stadium in the world.
Azarenka, who won her first grand slam title at this year's Australian Open, had won her previous six matches against Stosur in straight sets and seemed to be cruising to another easy win when she won romped through the opening set in just 30 minutes.
But Stosur, who upset Serena Williams in last year's final, found her rhythm after the initial 75-minute delay, landing more of her booming first serves and hitting her groundstrokes deeper and with greater conviction.
The seventh-seed won the second set then recovered from a break down in the third to draw level and force a deciding tiebreak, which Azarenka won 7-5 after blowing a 4-0 lead.
"I enjoy the fight," said Azarenka. "I enjoy the struggle, that pain that we go through, that incredible moment that you feel relieved after you know you gave it all in every point you had."