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U.S. Open women's semis preview: Serena-Vinci, Halep-Pennetta

US Open 2015 women's semifinals: Serena Williams vs Roberta Vinci and Simona Halep vs Flavia Pennetta

NEW YORK – On Friday at the U.S. Open, the women's final four will play for a spot in the 2015 title match. Serena Williams will take on Roberta Vinci, one of two Italians still left in the draw. Flavia Pennetta will play No. 2 Simona Halep in the second semifinal on Arthur Ashe. Check out the full television and broadcast schedule here. Because the matches were cancelled on Thursday because of rain, the full order of play for Friday can be found here.

Serena Williams plays surprise semifinalist Roberta Vinci to continue historic run: You can throw pretty much any test at Serena Williams at major tournaments this year and she just won’t lose, it seems. While she certainly looked frustrated throughout her match against older sister Venus on Tuesday night, Serena raised her level a few notches in the third set to win the emotional, rollercoaster-like contest. It was the Williams sisters’ 27th meeting, with Serena extending her head-to-head over Venus to 16 to 11, too, to set up her showdown versus the surprise of the tournament: Roberta Vinci of Italy.

The quest continues: Serena beats Venus to keep Grand Slam hopes alive

But Vinci is no stranger to the courts of Flushing Meadows. The 32-year-old has now reached the quarterfinals or better at the U.S. Open three of the last four years. The semis this year accounts for her first-ever final four showing at a major in singles (she has five majors in doubles to her name with Sara Errani).

For Vinci to win against Serena, however, will be an even more difficult task than against Kristina Mladenovic in the quarters. Serena has trounced Vinci in the four matches they’ve played, including in Canada in straight sets this year.

“She played me really tough, and I didn't really expect that. That's how I sprained my finger actually, was playing against her,” she said. “I'm not going to underestimate her. She played really well. She's not in the semifinals of a Grand Slam for no reason. She knows what to do and she knows what to play.”

Pennetta upsets No. 5 Kvitova, Halep defeats Azarenka to advance to semis

Serena added, “I think it was really good. Again, I just think it was great that I played her because I kind of know what to expect, and I'll be more ready for it this time.”

Vinci, meanwhile, told reporter she’s elated to be in her first major semi. “I'm so happy. I would like to enjoy my semifinal on Thursday. I did not expect one semifinal at the U.S. Open, so I'm really happy,” she said. “Now I enjoy my day. Tomorrow rest and play my game on Thursday. I have nothing to lose.”

Another Italian, Flavia Pennetta, plays Simona Halep: Flavia Pennetta joins compatriot Vinci in the final four after she upset Petra Kvitova in three sets. Pennetta outlasted the Czech, who’s been struggling with mono in recent months, 4–6, 6–4, 6–2. This is Pennetta’s second semifinal at the U.S. Open in two years and by far her best major as a result.

Serena Williams on sister Venus: ‘She has my heart’

“I think we both play very well. It was a good fight. In the end I play a little bit better. Physically I was better than her in the last set, so that was the difference, for sure,” said Pennetta after the match. “Of course I'm really, really happy. It's something incredible. Before the tournament I never think to be so far in the tournament, so it's something special. It's something amazing for me in this moment,” she continued.

Pennetta plays Simona Halep for a place in the title match. Halep edged past Victoria Azarenka in a 6–3, 4–6, 6–4 win in which she struck 40 winner to just 19 errors. Against Halep, Pennetta has a 3–1 advantage, although the No. 2 seed won their last match in Miami in straight sets. The Romanian is into her first U.S. Open semifinal.