By Ann Liguori
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A 32-year-old Italian ranked 43 in the world pulled off one of biggest upsets in sport’s history! This was on the scale of Buster Douglas knocking out Mike Tyson, the undefeated, undisputed heavyweight champion.
Roberta Vinci spoiled Serena Williams quest to win the historic calendar Grand Slam, out-playing Serena 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, to advance to her first ever Grand Slam final. In doing so, Vinci also halted Serena’s 33-match Grand Slam win streak and her 26 US Open win streak. Vinci prevented the most dominating player in women’s tennis from having the opportunity to play for her fourth straight title and to get her 22nd Grand Slam singles title at this US Open.
Vinci’s odds to beat Serena were 300-1. And it was reported that Vinci called her travel agent yesterday to book her flight because she didn’t think she’d win.
Vinci played brilliant tennis, “focusing on the ball, not her opponent,” she said afterwards. Vinci made 20 fewer unforced errors over-all (Serena had 40 unforced errors to Vinci’s 20). Vinci moved better and took advantage of Serena’s nerves. At times, Serena seemed frozen at the baseline as Vinci often hit balls right at Serena’s feet and won the point, Serena looking perplexed and helpless.
After the match, Serena said that Vinci “literally played out of her mind.” When she was asked about feeling the pressure, she said, “No. I told you guys I don’t feel pressure. I never felt pressure. I don’t know. I never felt that pressure to win here. I said that from the beginning.”
Her body language on the court suggested otherwise. She struggled with her serve, lost her temper. After dropping the second set, 4-6, she banged her racquet in anger and was issued a warning by the umpire. She knew she wasn’t playing well and I think she was indeed, buckling to the intense scrutiny and pressure that has been building to ultra-high levels as her quest to win the calendar grand slam came down to only two more matches she had to win!
In the women’s final on Saturday, Vinci will play fellow Italian, Flavia Pennetta, the 26th seed, who dominated Simona Halep 6-1, 6-3 in a match that lasted only 59 minutes. It will be the first time either of these players ever advanced to a Grand Slam final. And the first ever all Italian Grand Slam final!
It was a compelling and dominating run for one of the greatest athletes in sports. And at the end of her incredible journey, after winning her second Serena Slam (US Open 2014, Australian Open 2015, French Open 2015, Wimbledon 2015) and advancing to her seventh straight semi final at the US Open, Serena showed she’s not a robot, that she is indeed human, she does get nervous, which makes everything she’s accomplished up to this point even more remarkable!
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