Saturday September 12th, 2015

NEW YORK – Serena Williams and Simona Halep were both stunned by Italian veterans Roberta Vinci and Flavia Pennetta, respectively, in their semifinals matches. That means the world will have to wait for a calendar Grand Slam in women’s tennis as well as for a showdown between the No. 1 and No. 2 women in the world in a major final.

Tennis
In surreal upset, Vinci ends Serena's quest for calendar Grand Slam

But the players couldn’t be more thrilled to get to their first major final. “I just tried to play every match the best I could from the first one here," Pennetta said after winning her match against Halep. "I was trying not to think too much about the draw and everything else and just focus on what I had to do when I got on the court, match by match. And here I am in the final—I'm really, really happy."

Meanwhile, Vinci proved to be just as excited to be in the final with her historic win over Serena. “For me it's an amazing moment. It's incredible. 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,” she said.

And while it isn’t Serena or Halep fighting for the title, there is a great deal of interesting facts to know about the lower-ranked Italian women. Here are 10 of them.

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    Pennetta and Vinci played with one another at the Roland Garros girls’ doubles final in 1999, winning the title together 16 years ago. They’ve known each other since childhood.

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    With their match together on Saturday, Pennetta, 33, and Vinci, 32, are two of the oldest players to play against one another in a Grand Slam final in the Open era. They’re also just the third and fourth Italian women to reach a major singles final, with Francesca Schiavone winning the French Open in 2010 and Sara Errani reaching the final there in 2012.

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    Vinci and Pennetta have played one another nine times in their careers. Pennetta leads the head-to-head by five matches to four. Meanwhile, she won their last match at the 2013 U.S. Open in which she beat her compatriot in the quarters, 6–4, 6–1.

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    Both Italians are highly accomplished doubles players in majors. While Vinci has five major titles in doubles (all with fellow Italian Sara Errani), Pennetta won the 2011 Australian Open doubles title with Gisela Dulko. She was also a runner-up at the U.S. Open last year with legend Martina Hingis.

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    Pennetta and Vinci have also both held the No.1 spot in doubles. While Pennetta reached the pinnacle in 2011, Vinci held the top spot in 2012.

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    They’re both Fed Cup all-stars. In fact, Pennetta and Vinci have been on the winning Italian Fed Cup teams four times in their careers (2006, 2009, 2010, and 2013). While Pennetta has notched 25 wins and just five losses, Vinci’s record is 23 wins and six losses.

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    The Italians turned pro around the same time. Vinci became one in 1999 and Pennetta joined the professional ranks in 2000.

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    They’ve also been ranked nearly as high as one another during their best years on tour in the past. For example, Vinci’s highest ranking was No.11, which she attained in 2013. Meanwhile, Pennetta has been ranked as high as No. 10 in 2009.

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    To go along with their similar career trajectories, the Italians also have a similar number of WTA titles in singles. Vinci has nine singles titles, with her first coming at Bogota in 2007 and her last in Palermo in 2013. Pennetta has 10 singles titles, with her first at Sopot in 2004 and her last at Indian Wells in 2014. In doubles, Vinci has 25 titles and Pennetta has 17.

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    They’ve had much different paths to the U.S. Open final. Pennetta knocked off a slew of higher-ranked players to make it to this historic 2015 U.S. Open final, while Vinci played just one. Pennetta, the No. 26 seed, beat No. 22 Stosur, No. 5 Kvitova and No.2 Halep. Vinci, who is No. 43 in the world, had a walkover from No. 25 Eugenie Bouchard and took out No. 1 Serena Williams, of course, in the semis.

 

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