Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Mama mia -- two Italian women reach U.S. Open semis

Flavia Pennetta, shown in March, joined fellow
Italian Roberta Vinci in the U.S. Open semifinals.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Serena Williams is trying to make history in the U.S. Open.
   Italy already has.
   For the first time in the Open era, which began in 1968, two Italian women have reached the semifinals of a Grand Slam tournament. 
   No. 26 seed Flavia Pennetta joined unseeded Roberta Vinci in the U.S. Open semis, outlasting No. 5 Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic 4-6 6-4, 6-2 today in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion recovering from mononucleosis, wilted in the 88-degree heat and 61 percent humidity after leading 6-4, 3-1 in the 2-hour, 23-minute match.
   No. 2 seed Simona Halep is the only women's semifinalist under 30. The Romanian, who will turn 24 on Sept. 27, defeated No. 20 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in a match suspended by rain early in the third set. Halep played with her left thigh wrapped.
   In Thursday's semis, Halep will meet the 33-year-old Pennetta, and No. 1 Williams, who will turn 34 on Sept. 26, will play the 32-year-old Vinci.
   Pennetta is 3-1 against Halep, but Halep won the last meeting 6-3, 7-5 in the round of 16 at Miami in April. Williams, seeking the first calendar-year Grand Slam since Steffi Graf in 1988, has never lost a set in four matches against Vinci, who owns a career Grand Slam in doubles.
   On the men's side, No. 2 Roger Federer and No. 5 Stan Wawrinka advanced to an all-Swiss semifinal.
   Federer, a five-time U.S. Open champion (2004-08), dismantled No. 12 Richard Gasquet of France 6-3, 6-3, 6-1. Federer, 34, is the only men's semifinalist who has not lost a set in the tournament.
   Wawrinka beat No. 15 Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-4, 6-0 to end a four-match losing streak to the South African. The 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) Anderson was coming off a victory over No. 3 Andy Murray.
   Federer is 16-3 against Wawrinka. They have split their two matches this year, both on clay.
   The other men's semifinal was set on Tuesday. No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who won the 2011 U.S. Open, will face No. 9 Marin Cilic, the defending champion from Croatia. Djokovic, from Serbia, is 13-0 against Cilic.
   Northern California connection -- Americans Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey, a San Francisco native living in Las Vegas, defeated Leonardo Mayer of Argentina and Joao Sousa of Portugal 6-3, 6-4 in the men's doubles quarterfinals.
   Johnson and Querrey will meet eighth-seeded Jamie Murray, Andy's older brother, and John Peers in the semifinals. Murray and Peers, the runners-up at Wimbledon two months ago, advanced on Tuesday by edging fourth-seeded Marcin Matkowski of Poland and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4).
   Querrey and Bethanie Mattek-Sands of Phoenix reached the mixed doubles final, defeating Lukasz Kubot of Poland and Andrea Hlavackova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-3. Querrey and Mattek-Sands will play fourth-seeded Martina Hingis of Switzerland and Leander Paes of India on Friday.
   Wild cards Vasil Kirkov of Tampa, Fla., and Sam Riffice of Roseville in the Sacramento area reached the boys doubles quarterfinals with a 7-6 (4), 6-3 victory over Tim Sandkaulen of Germany and Mate Valkusz of Hungary. Both Kirkov and Riffice are 16.

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