In one of the unlikeliest major finals in women’s tennis, the 26th-seeded Pennetta beat Vinci 7-6 (4), 6-2 at Flushing Meadows. “I just have to say congrats to her”.
Vinci was attempting to follow up her stunning semifinal upset of American Serena Williams on Friday. She broke Vinci four times while winning 69 percent of her first serves.
Showing signs of nerves, Pennetta and Vinci seemed content to battle from the baseline, trading early breaks as the first set went to tiebreak.
She was also able to handle Vinci’s backhand slice, the most recognized part of the world No. 43’s game. We shouldn’t be shocked that she would bow out of the most important tournament of her storied career in the most spectacular and unexpected of fashions. However, Pennetta made it clear that next year she will not defend the US Open title. “It was a really hard decision to make, but I’m really happy that I did it. If I had dreamed about how I wanted to finish, this was the ideal way”. I mean, I really think it’s the best way.
When Pennetta later praised her play, Vinci joked if that meant she instead would get the winner’s trophy. Unlike the top-ranked Williams, Pennetta was unfazed by her former junior doubles partner’s slices and volleys, and the 43rd-ranked Vinci couldn’t recapture her brilliant play from Friday.
Pennetta, who had won both her previous grand slam encounters with Vinci and enjoyed a 5-4 head-to-head edge overall entering the final, powered to a 4-0 lead second set before breaking her good friend for a fourth time to reign as the queen of Queens.
And when yesterday’s match ended, after Pennetta flung her racket overhead, she went up to the net to find Vinci, not for a handshake but for a lengthy hug.
“Why? Because sometimes it’s getting hard for me to compete….”
Far from being despondent after her 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 loss to her childhood friend, the 32-year-old Vinci instead showed off a nice line in stand-up comedy.
Later, Pennetta clarified that she plans to enter two tournaments in China over the next month, and the season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore, if she qualifies.
The first set alone took longer than Pennetta’s entire semi-final win over Simona Halep, as the two countrywomen who know each other’s games so well predictably engaged in a neck-and-neck tussle. As the two sat in side-by-side chairs waiting for the awards ceremony, Pennetta confided that she was about to announce her retirement.
“He was talking with me and Roberta because we were together”. Pennetta also became the only second Italian woman to win one of the tennis majors. “And she said, ‘This is my last match on the U.S. Open, so now I have to speak and tell to everyone that this is my last match”.
“It was tough, I passed the 24 hours with a lot of things on my mind”, said Vinci who had shared a lunch table with Pennetta before the match.