2015 US Open – Day 12

Day-12 Eye Openers:

  • Roberta Vinci. Unbelievable. Unexpected. Unseeded. Unreal. For the first time, the World #43 defeated Serena Williams. Tomorrow, she will play in her first career Grand Slam Singles Final
  • Flavia Pennetta. When opportunity knocks, play your best tennis. After 15-years in the game, Pennetta’s experience propelled her past World #2 Simona Halep and on to a career first: A Grand Slam Singles Final
  • The All-Italian Final. Stupefacente!
  • Marin Cilic’s Ankle. The defending US Open Champ simply couldn’t move in his Semifinal match with Djokovic. Novak advances to his 6th career US Open Final
  • Roger Federer’s Focus. With Serena’s loss, his is now “the story” of the Open. Can he capture his 6th? Will he become an 18-time Grand Slam Champion? Can he level his career head-to-head with Novak to 21-wins each? This will be the 6th time Roger and Novak have battled this year. All have been in finals. Djokovic won three of those Finals, Roger two…including their most recent Final last month in Cincinnati
  • Martina Hingis and Leander Paes. 2015 US Open Mixed Doubles Champions. And now you know why Mark Ein continues to collect WTT Titles with his Kastles in Washington

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Semifinals here in Arthur Ashe Stadium:

[26] Flavia Pennetta (ITA) def. [2] Simona Halep (ROU) – At 33-years-old, the 26th-seed Flavia Pennetta played out of her mind in today’s semifinal. Down the stretch, World #2 Simona Halep appeared overwhelmed by the moment – her first ever US Open Semifinal – which seems unusual for the 2014 Roland Garros Finalist who defeated Serena in the WTA Finals last November.

Pennetta broke early in the first set to go up 3-1. She’d win the next four games, including a break to start-off the second. It looked like momentum would shift, however, when Halep broke right back. Simona then held and broke again to gain a 3-1 lead; but a pivotal double-fault on her next service game eliminated the advantage. At 3-all, Pennetta delivered a phenominal return-game, breaking Simona at love. Up 4-3, she could sense the win just eight points away. Flavia held to go up 5-3, then secured a spot in her first Grand Slam Singles Final with a forehand drive up the line, earning her 6th break of the match for the win.

Flavia Pennetta – Road to the Finals
SF – def. [2] Simona Halep (ROU) 6-1, 6-3
QF – def. [5] Petra Kvitoa (CZE) 4-6, 6-4, 6-2
4R – def. [22] Sam Stosur (AUS) 6-4, 6-4
3R – def. Petra Cetkovska (CZE) 1-6, 6-1, 6-4
2R – def. Monica Niculescu (ROU) 6-1, 6-4
1R – def. Jarmila Gajdosova (AUS) 6-1, 3-6, 6-1

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Roberta Vinci (ITA) def. [1] Serena Williams (USA) – Serena Williams has won the past four consecutive Grand Slams (The Serena Slam). Her quest to deliver the first Calendar Slam since 1988 (Steffi Graf) came to an end today in Flushing.

In pursuit of her 5th consecutive and 9th US Open Final, Serena captured the first-set in just 32-minutes. The two traded breaks to start the match. Serena would earn two more, taking the set in an all-out assault on Vinci’s second serve.

In set-2, Vinci drew first blood, breaking Serena to go up 3-2. After both held…up 30-40, Serena missed an opportunity to earn the break back, giving the Italian a chance to win the set on her racquet…which she did with concise, deeply placed ground strokes and a cutting slice backhand that gave Serena fits all afternoon.

All even, the third set was insane. Serena held, then broke to go up 2-0…but in game-3, she double-faulted to give-back the break. After Vinci held for 2-all, Serena spent her next service game screaming after every point. She willed herself through the hold, as did Vinci in the following game. At 3-all, Williams delivered another critical double fault at 15-all. After fighting to deuce, she’d gain the advantage, game-point – and then IT happened. The pivotal point of the match…

Williams and Vinci shared an insanely athletic rally where Serena nearly crashed into a courtside camera. Vinci won the point, and the next two to earn the break. She won the crowd over – fired-up, demanding support as only the Italians can.

Roberta would then fall behind 15-40 in game-8, but dug-in and held-on to maintain her lead 5-3. Serena held serve to make it 5-4, putting all the pressure on Vinci to serve out the win. Unintimidated by the moment, she played a flawless service game, winning the game at love, denying the World #1 a single point. Tears of disbelief. Tears of joy.

“This is the best moment of my life,” said Roberta in an interview with Tom Rinaldi after the match.

Vinci’s 2015 results in the Slam Singles Draws: Fell in the 2nd-Round of the Australian Open, the 1st-Round of both Roland Garros and Wimbledon. Here in New York: She will compete in the US Open Final against countrywoman Flavia Pennetta.

Roberta Vinci – Road to the Finals
SF – def. [1] Serena Williams (USA) 2-6, 6-4, 6-4
QF – def. Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-3, 5-7, 6-4
4R – w/o. Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) – withdrew due to locker room concussion
3R – def. Mariana Duque-Marino (COL) 6-1, 5-7, 6-2
2R – def. Denisa Allertova (CZE) 2-6, 6-3, 6-1
1R – def. Vania King (USA) 6-4, 6-4

Roberta at Indian Wells in 2014. Winless for the first three months of the season, she cried tears of joy after winning her 1st-Round match. Today? Tears of joy after defeating the World #1 to compete in her first career Grand Slam Singles Final

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[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) def. [9] Marin Cilic (CRO) – Novak Djokovic was too good. Marin Cilic was too injured. Both accurate assessments. Friday’s first Men’s Semifinal was a blow-out. An after-thought. It took the the defending US Open Champion 26-minutes to win a single game. It would be another 36-minutes before he’d win another. In one-hour and 25-minutes, the World #1 rolled through Cilic 6-0, 6-1, 6-2. After the match, Novak took the time to make the packed-house aware that Marin had been carrying an ankle-injury through the entire Open, and it was quite remarkable that he’d been able to make it that far in the tournament.

The 2011 US Open Champion will play in his 6th US Open Final on Sunday – his 5th in the past 6-years. It’ll be Novak’s second New York Final with Roger Federer on the other side of the net. In 2007, Roger defeated Novak in straight-sets to claim his 4th US Open title. Djokovic is 2-3 vs. Federer in New York. Novak, however, has won their last two matches on Arthur Ashe Stadium:

  • 2007 Final: Federer def. Djokovic 7-6(4), 7-6(2), 6-4
  • 2008 Semifinal: Federer def. Djokovic 6-3, 5-7, 7-5, 6-2
  • 2009 Semifinal: Federer def. Djokovic 7-6(3), 7-5, 7-5
  • 2010 Semifinal: Djokovic def. Federer 5-7, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 7-5
  • 2011 Semifinal: Djokovic def. Federer 6-7(7), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5

2015 has been a season of dominance for the World #1. After falling to Ivo Karlovic in his first event of the year in Doha, Novak Djokovic has played in the Final of every single event he’s entered this year. Five of those Finals have been versus Roger Federer:

  • Feb – Dubai: Federer def. Djokovic 6-3, 7-5
  • Mar – Indian Wells: Djokovic def. Federer 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-2
  • May – Rome: Djokovic def. Federer 6-4, 6-3
  • Jul – Wimbledon: Djokovic def. Federer 7-6(1), 6-7(10), 6-4, 6-3
  • Aug – Cincinnati: Federer def. Djokovic 7-6(1), 6-3

Novak Djokovic – Road to the Finals
SF – def. [9] Marin Cilic (CRO) 6-0, 6-1, 6-2
QF – def. [18] Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(2)
4R – def. [23] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3
3R – def. [25] Andreas Seppi (ITA) 6-3, 7-5, 7-5
2R – def. Andreas Haider-Maurer (AUT) 6-4, 6-1, 6-2
1R – def. Joao Souza (BRA) 6-1, 6-1, 6-1

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[2] Roger Federer (SUI) def. [5] Stan Wawrinka (SUI) – Roger Federer is playing some of the most aggressive tennis of his career at this year’s Open. Bouyed by his win over Novak Djokovic in the Cincinnati Finals last month, he’s been on the attack from ball-up. On Sunday, he’ll get his 6th shot the World #1 this year alone. In their career head-to-head, Djokovic leads 21-20. Roger looks to level that stat.

Roger had few hiccups versus his Olympic doubles partner, Davis Cup teammate and reigning Roland Garros Champion Stan Wawrinka. Serving well, Roger scored two timely breaks in the first and second, jumping out to a quick two set lead. Deflated, Wawrinka fell apart in the third. In one-hour and 32-minutes, the GOAT secured a spot in his first US Open Final in six years – the seventh of his career. Between 2004 and 2008, Roger had a 35-match win-streak here in Flushing, earning five consecutive titles. He’s missed that feeling…and he’s hungrier than ever to see his name stenciled again on the US Open Champions trophy.

Roger Federer – Road to the Finals
SF – def. [5] Stan Wawrinka (SUI) 6-4, 6-3
QF – def. [12] Richard Gasquet (FRA) 6-3, 6-3, 6-1
4R – def. [13] John Isner (USA) 7-6(0), 7-6(6), 7-5
3R – def. [29] Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) 6-3, 6-4, 6-4
2R – def. Steve Darcis (BEL) 6-1, 6-2, 6-1
1R – def. Leonardo Mayer (ARG) 6-1, 6-2, 6-2

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US OPEN FINALS. Arthur Ashe Stadium: Day-13 Schedule.

[12:00] Mens Doubles Final:

  • [8] Jamie Murray (GBR) / John Peers (AUS) vs. [12] Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) / Nicolas Mahut (FRA)

[3:00] Womens Singles Final:

  • Roberta Vinci (ITA) vs. [26] Flavia Pennetta (ITA)