World no.1 Serena Williams’ dream of the Calendar-Year Grand Slam was blown away by Italy’s world no.43 Roberta Vinci, primarily a doubles specialist on the WTA circuit. The 32-year old Vinci caused the tournament’s biggest upset by defeating the literally invincible Serena in three sets in a rain-delayed semifinal on Friday morning. While the shock spread far and wide, it became apparent that the women’s final of this year’s Open at the Flushing Meadows will be an all-Italian affair, a fact that couldn’t have been conjured by the most hardened gambler in the world. On the same day, a little earlier, another Italian, Flavia Penetta had upset the second seed Simona Halep of Romania. Most other matches scheduled for Thursday were postponed to Friday morning.
No one doubted Serena Williams’s impending achievement of the calendar Grand Slam after the semifinal line-up showed no.2 seed Simona Halep of Romania and two Italian women, both of whom were more famous for their exploits in women’s doubles and. None of the three women had the caliber of beating Serena Williams. The match between the world no.1 American and Italy’s Roberta Vinci was scheduled for Thursday night. But it rained in New York and both women’s semifinals were postponed to early Friday morning. In the first match, no.26 seed Italy’s Flavia Pennetta literally crushed no.2 seed Simona halep of Romania. After her complete dominance in the first set, Pennetta faced some resistance from Halep in the second. For a while, it looked as if Halep could force the decider, when she won three straight games. But the 33-year old Pennetta found her first-set momentum back to win the last five games of the second set on trot against the strangely subdued Romanian. Simona Halep didn’t know what hit her as she lost 19 of the last 21 points to yield an easy 6-1, 6-3 victory to the unfancied Italian.
The second semifinal between Serena Williams and Roberta Vinci was largely attended in anticipation of Serena moving one step closer to making tennis history. Other than winning the Grand Slams 22 times, Serena was the favorite to join Maureen Connolly, Margaret Court and Martina Navratilova, the three women, all of whom had the distinction of winning six straight grand slam titles. The American was also in the chase of the calendar Grand Slam, which was last achieved by Germany’s Steffi Graf in 1988. All that lay shattered on Friday at Flushing Meadows. The seemingly unbeatable Serena was finally beaten by someone, who had never taken a set from the world no.1 in all their previous encounters. Roberta Vinci will be remembered for causing one of the most significant upsets in the history of tennis as she defeated Serena 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 on her way to final. Serena began strongly and no one thought that Vinci could bounce back after losing the first set 2-6. But the Italian raised her game several notches and took the next set from Serena for the first time in their head-to-head encounters. Then Serena did the unimaginable. She smashed her racquet. More than anything else, it indicated that the tension within her was beginning to boil. Thereafter, despite her best, the invincible was done in in by Vinci. The women’s final on Saturday will have two Italians fighting for the women’s crown, something that has not happened in the open era since 1964.