After Roberta Vinci shocked Serena William in the semifinal on Friday, the whole of Italy went into a celebratory mode. Saturday’s impending final became inconsequential to the Italians as they were assured of the women’s singles trophy coming to Italy, whoever won the championship game. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi decided to fly to New York for the unprecedented occasion and watched Flavia pennnetta beat her compatriot Roberta Vinci in the final. He was a happy man, who sat there without tension. Pockets of the 23000-capacity Arthur Ashe stadium were empty as American didn’t like such a match but Pennetta couldn’t care less. After Serena beat big sister Williams in the quarterfinal, the average ticket price soared from around $600 to $1,500 in anticipation of Serena completing a calendar Grand Slam. However, everything changed after Serena’s exit from the scene and one could buy the final match tickets for as low as $45 as per the Associated Press. The AP reports also indicated that Serena’s chase of the calendar-year grand slam and her 22nd major had heightened the ticket sales and no tickets were available. It was the first time that women’s final at the US Open had been sold out prior to the men’s for the first time in US Open history. Roberta Vinci spoiled all that. Mood in the Big Apple was subdued on the prospect of watching the US Open final between two elderly Italians, who were ranked outside of the top 20 in the world. Had Serena reached the final that certainly wouldn’t have been the case. However, the fans did show up and besides the Italian PM, the show was graced by Hollywood stars Robert Redford and Michael Douglas. Pennetta played much better and defeated Vinci without too much trouble.
Against Serena Williams, Roberta Vinci made sumptuous use of her backhand slice that confounded the world no.1 in the three-set semifinal on Friday. Serena committed 40 unforced errors in that match but against Pennetta, Vinci’s favorite shot didn’t work. Pennetta had better anticipation and Vinci knew that her compatriot couldn’t be tricked so easily. The statistics were in favor of Pennetta, whose world ranking stood at 26 against Vinci’s 43; had 2014 Indian Wells last year, reached the top 10 in 2009 and held a 5-3 record against the 32-year-old Vinci.
Pennetta began quite well and broke Vinci in the fifth game of the set to lead 3-2. Her game looked on an upper keel with powerful baseline strokes and a penetrating backhand. In the first five games, Vinci couldn’t produce a single winner and committed 10 unforced errors. Regardless, Vinci bounced back and broke Pennetta in the eighth game to square the score 4-4. Then the two Italians held their serves to enter the tiebreak. Just when they looked equally matched at 2-2 in the tiebreak, Vinci cracked. She committed 4 unforced errors to hand over the first set point to her compatriot. Pennetta was not to miss the gift as she converted on her third set point. Pennetta carried the first set momentum to the second with a 4-0 lead. Vinci tried to engineer a fight-back in the second but Pennetta fended her by holding her serve for 5-2 lead with a brilliant lob. In the eighth game, Pennetta broke Vinci to love and produced an emphatic inside-out forehand winner on match point. It was all over for Serena Williams’ conqueror with Pennetta winning at 7-6, 6-2. The champion flung her racket skywards and exchanged a long hug with Vinci at the net. Then she ran to the players’ box to kiss her boyfriend, Fabio Fognini.
The Americans may not have liked the final between the two Italians but Pennetta had reached the final after defeating three Grand Slam champions or finalists; Petra Kvitova, Sam Stosur and Simona Halep. Therefore her victory was no fluke and she deserved to be recognized as the champion. Vinci didn’t look disappointed either. She set together with Pennetta during the trophy presentation and laughed a lot. In her speech, Pennetta hailed Vinci as one of her best friends on tour. The women belong to the same Puglia region in Italy and they once shared a room in their junior days.
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