Serena Williams resumes her bid for a Calendar Year Grand Slam tonight against Roberta Vinci in the US Open primetime semifinals.
Serena, who has won 33 straight Grand Slam matches and 26 in a row at the US Open, has never lost to the Italian winning all four meetings.
Vinci is playing her first Grand Slam semifinal after the 32-year-old outlasted Kristina Mladenovic Tuesday in three sets.
Vinci won’t be the only Italian in action tonight, she’s joined by Flavia Pennetta. The 33-year-old Pennetta reached her second career US Open semifinal overcoming a set and a break down to beat Petra Kvitova 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.
“I think we both play very well,” Pennetta said. “It was a good fight. In the end I play a little bit better. Physically I was better than her in the last set, so that was the difference, for sure.
“Of course I’m really, really happy. It’s something incredible. Before the tournament I never think to be so far in the tournament, so it’s something special. It’s something amazing for me in this moment.”
It marks the first time in the Open Era two Italian women have reached a Slam semifinal.
Pennetta will meet World No. 2 Simona Halep who beat the rain and 2-time runner-up Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 to reach her first US Open semifinal, third of her Grand Slam career.
“It was an amazing match. She played fantastic,” Halep said. “In the first set I was playing my best tennis, and I knew I could win the match, but I also knew she’s very strong and she never gives up.
“After the first set I was a bit behind the baseline, which wasn’t good, and she was dominating me on the court. I was running well, but I didn’t have enough power to hit from very far off the court.
“The rain delay was perfect for me. It was unbelievable that I had another chance. So I said with my coach, ‘I have to do everything I did in the first set and get this one, because it’s made for me.'”
Pennetta leads Halep 3-1 including a win over her in Miami this year and in the fourth round of the 2013 US Open.
“We have similar game because she has a strong backhand, I have the strong backhand,” Halep said of Pennetta. “It’s just she’s aggressive, as well, and I have to make her run like I do with all the players. But first I have to think about my game and what I have to do on court.”
More notes on the semifinals:
– Only one of the semifinalists has won a Grand Slam singles title previously:Williams has 21 in total – including six US Open titles (1999, 2002, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014)
– Serena Williams is bidding for her 26th Grand Slam singles final. In the Open Era, Chris Evert reached the most Grand Slam finals, with 34 (18-16 win-loss record), followed by Martina Navratilova (32; 18-14) and Steffi Graf (31; 22-9). Margaret Court reached 29 Grand Slam singles finals, going 24-5 overall and 11-1 in the Open Era.
– Simona Halep has advanced to one Grand Slam final previously: 2014 Roland Garros (l. Sharapova).
– For the first time in the Open Era, Italy has two women into the semifinals of a Grand Slam (Pennetta, Vinci).
– Flavia Pennetta is contesting her second Grand Slam semifinal, having lost to Azarenka at 2013 US Open.
– Vinci is making her Grand Slam SF debut; both Italians are bidding for their career-first Grand Slamfinals.
– Vinci is the 16th unseeded player to advance to a Grand Slam SF since 2001 Wimbledon (first Slam with 32 seeds).
– This is the third successive year an unseeded player has advanced to the SF at the US Open.
– Simona Halep is the first Romanian to reach SF at US Open since Irina Spirlea in 1997 (l. V.Williams in third set tie-break). he would be bidding to become the first Romanian to advance to the US Open final in the Open Era. Halep’s manager, fellow Romanian Virginia Ruzici, is a two-time US Open quarterfinalist (1976, 1978).
– Serena Williams has dropped the fewest games (37) en route to SF and spent the least time on court (6h 37m).
– Flavia Pennetta has dropped the most games (44), but Halep has spent the most time on court (8h 29m).
– Serena Williams is bidding for her sixth title of the season; Halep her fourth; and Pennetta and Vinci their first.
– Number of hard court titles won by the semifinalists: Williams (45), Halep (7), Pennetta (3), Vinci (3).
– Among the semifinalists, Serena has delivered the most aces at this US Open – 38 from 5 matches – although Venus was the leader through the end of QFs, with 41 aces. Serena has served twice as many aces as the next semifinalist, Pennetta – 19.
– Serena Williams is the tournament leader for serve speed – 125mph (tied with Lisicki). None of the other semifinalists feature in the Top 20 on the serve speed count.
– For the first time at any Grand Slam since 1982 US Open, all four quarterfinals went to three sets.
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