That’s why they play the games. Both top seeds Serena Williams and Simona Halep with big favorites today as they collided with the surprising Roberta Vinci and Flavia Pennetta in the US Open semifinals.
Halep, who was playing in her first US Open semifinal, was up first, but after a slow, flat-footed start found herself promptly down 6-1.
The world No. 2 regrouped in the second racing out to a 3-0 lead, and a third set was in play. But Pennetta somehow regained momentum and
“It’s amazing, because 20 days ago my physio asked me if I thought I could ever win a Grand Slam or be in the final of a Grand Slam, and I said no,” Pennetta said.
“I think my answer was no for a lot of reasons, but like always, you never know. You just have to play and try your best, and most of the time the good things come when you aren’t expecting them.”
Halep falls to 1-4 against the Italian and took the positives despite her worst performance of the tournament and failing to reach a Slam final on the season.
“Of course I take positive things. I’m happy with my results here. I’m happy that I could reach the semifinals at the US Open for the first time – it’s the best Grand Slam for me this year,” Halep said.
“She played really well. She was strong. She was solid today. She deserved to win – she was better than me today. So I accept it, and I’m looking forward to resting a few days and then starting again.”
After the upset, top seed Serena Williams would surely restore order. The world No. 1 had never been troubled by Vinci and with a Calendar Year Grand Slam at stake, she wouldn’t lose now, would she? But she did 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.
After rolling in the first set, Vinci began making inroads in the second, slicing and dicing Serena, keeping her off balance and attacking the net – she’s a 5-time Grand Slam doubles champion.
In four prior meetings, Vinci had never won more than four games against Serena, but she managed to get a break and close out the second.
Serena, though, drew first blood early – she was 18-1 in 3-set match on the year – leading 2-0. Vinci, though, kept scrapping, regaining the break, then taking the lead and improbably serving out at love one of the biggest upsets in tennis history.
“For me it’s an amazing moment. It’s incredible,” said Vinci. I have so many things in my mind right now! It was an incredible match. I lost the first set, but I still tried to stay aggressive. In the end I was serving and it felt impossible, but I tried to stay focused and not think about the match or Serena’s incredible play.
“It’s the best moment of my life.”
About to be 34, Serena knew this was a missed opportunity at history and at tying Steffi Graf at 22.
“I don’t think I played that badly,” Williams said in her post-match press conference.
“I made more unforced errors than I normally would make, but I think she just played really well,” she added. “She did not want to lose today. Neither did I, incidentally – but she really didn’t either.
“I felt very happy to get that win at Wimbledon, you know,” Serena said. “I did win three Grand Slams this year – I won four in a row, which is pretty good. So it’s definitely the positive.”
Serena’s 26 match win streak at the US Open is over and so to his her 33 match Grand Slam win streak.
Vinci and Pennetta will contest the first-ever all-Italian final in the Open Era. Pennetta has won five of their eight meetings. It’s the first Grand Slam final between two first-time Slam finalists since the 2010 French Open when Italian Francesca Schiavone beat Sam Stosur.
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