Roberta Vinci produced one of the greatest shocks in the history of women’s tennis by beating world number one Serena Williams’ at the US Open to set up a singles final with team mate and fellow Italian Flavia Pennetta.
On a day on which Switzerland’s Roger Federer and Serbia’s Novak Djokovic each cruised into the men’s singles final, Williams saw her aim to become the first player to earn the calendar Grand Slam since Germany’s Steffi Graf in 1988 end in stunning fashion.
Vinci, ranked 43 in the world and playing in her first Grand Slam semi-final, lost the opening set 6-2 but fought back to win the next two 6-4, 6-4.
“This is the best match that I played in my life,” she said.
“At the end when I made a break, 4-3, and served, I was a little bit scared.
“But in my mind, I say, ‘Don’t think about this, because maybe you have more pressure, stay calm, relax, and breathe during every single point.
“Don’t think that you have Serena on the other side of the court.”
Williams, meanwhile, was full of praise for her opponent, admitting she “played literally out of her mind”, but showed her emotions by not taking questions on her own reaction.
“I don’t want to talk about how disappointing it is for me,” she said.
“If you have any other questions, I’m open for that.”
The match marked her first US Open loss since the 2011 final against Australia’s Sam Stosur, while her last defeat at any Grand Slam was by France’s Alize Cornet at Wimbledon in 2014.
Vinci will now face compatriot Penetta after the 33-year-old swept past Romanian second seed Simona Halep 6-1, 6-3.
A first Italian US Open winner is now guaranteed, with the European country set to secure a second Grand Slam title overall after Francesca Schiavone won the French Open in 2010.
There were no shocks on the men’s side of the draw as Federer produced a serving masterclass to continue his superb form and defeat his compatriot, French Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka, 6-4 6-3 6-1.
He has reached the final without losing a set, and has dropped serve just twice in the entire tournament.
Top-seeded Djokovic could pose a tougher challenge, however, as he showed ominous form, thrashing defending champion Marin Cilic of Croatia 6-0, 6-1, 6-2.
The women’s final is scheduled for tomorrow evening, with the men’s to follow on Sunday (September 13).
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Inside the Games.