New York: Unheralded Italian Roberta Vinci pulled off one of the biggest upsets in tennis history here on Friday, rallying to defeat Serena Williams 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the US Open semifinals.
The 43rd-ranked Vinci, who is best known for her achievements in doubles and had never won a set in four previous matches against the 21-time Grand Slam champion, will next take on 26th-seeded countrywoman Flavia Pennetta in tennis' first-ever all-Italian major singles final.
Serena Williams reacts against Roberta Vinci of Italy during their Women's Singles Semifinals match on Day Twelve of the 2015 U.S. Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. Mike Stobe/Getty Images for the USTA/AFP
The 33-year-old Pennetta advanced to the championship match by routing second-seeded Romanian Simona Halep 6-1, 6-3 earlier Friday.
Vinci's low-bouncing slice backhand and strong serve for her height were her main assets, while the pressure Serena faced in trying to become only the sixth player in tennis history - after Don Budge, Maureen Connolly, Rod Laver, Margaret Court and Steffi Graf - to win all four Grand Slam singles titles in the same calendar year proved to be a big equalizer.
In the battle of WTA Tour veterans, 34-year-old Williams used her big edge in the power department to strike 50 winners, compared to just 19 for the 32-year-old Vinci.
But the American's 40 unforced errors - double the number of mistakes the unseeded Vinci committed when not under pressure by the world No. 1 - proved to be her undoing.
Although she fell short in her bid for the calendar-year Slam, Williams' victory at Wimbledon earlier this summer made her the holder of tennis' four biggest events - the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open - for the second time in her career.