New York: Ekaterina Makarova limbered up for her US Open semi-final showdown with world number one Serena Williams by booking a spot in the women`s doubles final with Elena Vesnina on Thursday.
The two Russians ended the surprising run of Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm and Czech partner Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 7-5, 6-3 and will take on Martina Hingis and Flavia Pennetta in the final.
Before then, however, there`s the little matter of Makarova`s first Grand Slam singles semi-final on Friday.
Asked if doubles was a welcome distraction from the intimidating task of tackling 17-time Grand Slam champion Williams, Makarova said she wasn`t thinking about it quite that way.
"It`s special, but I`m not thinking all the time I`m in a Grand Slam against Serena," Makarova said.
Chimed in Vesnina -- "She`s a very calm girl. It`s really difficult to surprise her."
Vesnina is delighted by her partner`s success in singles, recalling that she played doubles with Russian compatriot Vera Zvonareva at the 2011 Australian Open when Zvonareva reached the last four.
"It`s great to have a partner who`s winning in singles and giving 100 percent in doubles," she said.
Makarova and Vesnina, who took out Serena and sister Venus in the doubles quarter-finals, have won four WTA titles as a team, including the French Open women`s doubles last year.
After a disappointing grass court campaign, including a round of 16 exit at Wimbledon, they put in some extra doubles practice together and all of a sudden, Vesnina said, "it clicked."
And things have clicked for Makarova in singles, as she dispatched seventh-seeded Eugenie Bouchard and former world number one Victoria Azarenka -- runner-up to Williams the past two years -- to reach the semi-finals of a major for the first time after four quarter-final disappointments.
"To win the Grand Slam it`s ... always the dream," she said. "From the kid when I was going to school and then came back home and watching some matches. You don`t believe that you can be here, and finally you`re here and going so far."