U.S. Open: Previewing the women's semifinal

Roberta Vinci, of Italy, reacts after defeating Kristina Mladenovic, of France, during a quarterfinal match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, in New York. (David Goldman/AP)

Any showdown between the Williams sisters is sure to be a spectacle and that’s exactly what tennis fans got on Tuesday night in New York.

Lost in the media frenzy that surrounded the matchup between the two superstar sisters was the fact that we’re now onto the semifinals and there are some serious underdogs competing.

Unseeded Italian Roberta Vinci won her quarterfinal match against fellow darkhorse Kristina Mledenovic to earn a spot in the quarterfinals against Serena Williams. Another Italian, No. 26 Flavia Pennetta, upset No. 5 Petra Kvitova in their quarterfinal match on Wednesday and is set to face No. 2 Simona Halep.

Vinci and Williams is a matchup between two veterans that bring completely different styles of play to the court. At 32 years old, Vinci is a crafty player, but she does not bring the power that Williams possesses in her game. However, Vinci has been very successful on the U.S. Open hard-court in recent years and likely won’t go down without a fight. Vinci was a U.S. Open quarterfinalist in 2012 and 2013, so she will be looking to take the next step and capitalize on her first Grand Slam semifinal appearance in her 16 years as a professional.

Vinci has lost all four of her career meetings with Williams, but gave her a tough challenge earlier this year at the Canadian masters, losing 6-4, 6-3. If both players are at their best Williams is going to win, but don’t be surprised if Vinci finds a couple ways to throw the six-time U.S. Open champion off her game in short stretches.

Pennetta is a very accomplished veteran player with five U.S. Open quarterfinal appearances and a semifinal in 2013 under her belt, but she is going to have her hands full with Halep.

Although Halep is the No. 2 ranked player in the world, she is seeking her first Grand Slam title. She grinded out wins against two tough opponents in No. 24 Sabine Lisicki and No. 20 Victoria Azarenka to reach the semifinal. Halep is one of the most consistent players in the world from the baseline, so Pennetta will need to draw her into the net if she wants to have any success.

Halep defeated Pennetta in Miami back in March, but Pennetta won their previous three meetings, so the two players should have plenty of familiarity with each other.  We’ve been taught to expect the unexpected in this year’s women’s draw, but all signs point towards a Williams vs. Halep final. The two veteran Italians will look to play spoiler in the biggest matches of their long careers.


Aaron Esposito is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at aaron.esposito@uconn.edu. He tweets @espo2430.