Jelena Jankovic and Serena Williams each had one eye on brewing thunderstorms as they booked their places in the US Open women's final with efficient victories in blustery conditions on Friday.
With a heavy rain expected to hit Flushing Meadows later in the day, Serb Jankovic relied on her trademark dogged retrieving to beat Russian Elena Dementieva 6-4, 6-4 before the muscular Williams swept away Dinara Safina 6-3, 6-2.
Weather-permitting, Jankovic and twice champion Williams will battle it out for the final Grand Slam title of the year and also for the number one ranking on Saturday evening in the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
For second seed Jankovic, the experience will be a foreign one as she has never before progressed beyond the last four in a major championship.
"As you can see, I have tears in my eyes," the 23-year-old from Belgrade said in a courtside interview after wrecking the grand slam dreams of the Olympic champion. "I am a little bit emotional to be in the final."
The Serb, who has struggled with a series of injuries for much of this season, said regaining full fitness had been a pivotal factor in her successful run at Flushing Meadows.
"This has been the first Grand Slam that I don't have any injuries, that I don't have any issues bothering me," Jankovic told reporters after coming from a break down in both sets.
"I'm healthy and I really want to do well. I'm really focused, I believe in myself... I'm trying my best out there and I'm motivated," added the Serb, who briefly claimed top spot in the world rankings last month.
Olympic champion Dementieva, runner-up here in 2004, broke in the first game and forged 4-2 ahead only for Jankovic to win four straight games to take the set.
The Russian again surged ahead in the second, but after a series of breaks, her opponent clinched the vital break in the 10th game to seal her place in the final.
Although Dementieva, like Jankovic, is yet to win a Grand Slam singes title, she was able to ease the pain of her defeat with thoughts of her Beijing Games triumph last month.
"I'm not disappointed at all," the 26-year-old said. "For me, Olympics was my biggest goal and I did my best. I have no regrets about it.
"Even if I came here and lost in the first round, I would have no regrets at all. It was a good run. I tried everything I had."
Williams, champion here in 1999 and 2002, returned to the US Open final for the first time in six years with a powerful display in difficult, blustery conditions.
Although she was broken by Safina in the first game, the fourth-seeded American dealt best with the winds and wrested control to secure victory in 88 minutes.
"It's so awesome," a beaming Williams said. "I'm just happy to be finally back in the finals."
Although the US Open could be forced into a Monday finish for the first time since 1987 because of poor weather, Williams was unperturbed.
"I don't know if we'll play tomorrow, but I'm ready to play tomorrow," the 26-year-old said. "Hopefully we can. If not, I'll be ready for Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, doesn't matter."
As for the challenge posed by Jankovic in the final, Williams said: "I don't feel (as if I'm) expected to win. I'm going against someone that's ranked higher than me.
"I feel like I have nothing to lose," added the world number three. "She has a lot of pressure to win her first Grand Slam and I'm just enjoying every moment."
American twins Bob and Mike Bryan won the men's doubles title for the second time with a 7-6, 7-6 victory over Indian-Czech duo Leander Paes and Lukas Dlouhy in Friday's first match.
"This ranks as one of our top achievements, especially playing against those guys," Mike said after the 30-year-old brothers had clinched their sixth Grand Slam crown together.
They have also triumphed at Wimbledon, Roland Garros and own a pair of Australian Open trophies.
"The level of tennis and the crowd was spectacular. It felt like a Davis Cup crowd out there. It feels really sweet to get the last Grand Slam of the year."