Serena Williams’ bid for a rare calendar-year Grand Slam came to a shuddering halt at the U.S. Open today when the three-times defending champion suffered a stunning 2-6 6-4 6-4 loss to unseeded Italian Roberta Vinci.
For world number one Williams, who was bidding to become only the fourth woman to win all four majors in the same year, it marked the first time she lost to Vinci in five career meetings.
Vinci, appearing in her first grand slam singles semi-final, took advantage of some loose points from the American with inspired play and determination to snap Williams’ streak of 33 consecutive match wins in the grand slams.
The 32-year-old Italian ended the two-hour shocker with a half-volley winner to set up a most unlikely Flushing Meadows final against 33-year-old compatriot Flavia Pennetta, who beat Romanian second seed Simona Halep 6-1 6-3 to reach her first grand slam singles final.
The 33-year-old Pennetta, seeded 26th, needed just 59 minutes for her victory.
Pennetta looked much the sharper from the outset, breaking for 3-1 and then a second time as she raced through the opening set in 28 minutes.
Halep was leaking errors, with nine on the forehand side alone, and she appeared to be lacking her usual fight as she dropped serve immediately in the second.
The dire situation roused the Romanian to produce her best tennis of the match over three games, but it was no comeback.
A double fault brought Pennetta back on serve in game five and the Italian reeled off 15 points in a row on her way to taking the last five games.