The first of the women’s 2015 US Open semi-finals will be played between Serena Williams and Roberta Vinci.
Roberta Vinci reached her first ever Grand Slam semi-final with a hard fought 6-3 5-7 6-4 victory over Kristina Mladenovic in two hours and 32 minutes. It was a ropey match for two sets but the quality improved significantly in the final set. Mladenovic started with a landslide of errors; although she got her serve going at the end of the set, Mladenovic couldn’t make any inroads on the Vinci serve. Vinci was also controlling her fair share of the rallies (surprising) and causing Mladenovic problems with her backhand slice (not surprising).
The second set was a little messy; Mladenovic failed to convert on six break points at 1-0. The Frenchwoman kept going for the drop shot which was not working with Vinci reading it practically every time. Vinci broke at 2-1 but then forfeited her advantage with a slack game filled with errors. Mladenovic then played some of her best tennis to hold and go up a break, converting with a gorgeous forehand return winner that sailed down-the-line. This set was like a yo-yo and kept on giving with the changes in momentum as Mladenovic double faulted four times (not consecutively) to give away her break.
This was as erratic as i’ve seen Mladenovic play in the last few months although once again, conditions were tough and it was a situation she’d never been in before. Mladenovic played some clutch tennis though to save two break points at 4-4 *15-40 and stay ahead. She called the trainer down at the next changeover for what appeared to be a leg injury. Vinci held with scoreboard pressure at *4-5 but succumbed in the next game with Mladenovic playing a smart return out wide on set point before hitting a backhand winner into the open space.
The third set was actually decent. It all came down to the crucial seventh game, a marathon 10-deuce game. Mladenovic had six game points but just couldn’t find that first serve, double faulting on a couple of them. Mladenovic was at 47% first serves for the match and did well to win the second set serving at 33% first serves (!). Vinci had five break points and finally converted after two double faults from Mladenovic and a shot into the net. Mladenovic had the trainer on again for her leg before enjoying a solid hold to force Vinci to serve it out. The Italian player did just that, playing solid and taking advantage of some over-aggressive returns from Mladenovic.
While Vinci’s draw has been very favourable with Mladenovic, the world number 40, her highest ranked opponent this fortnight, she deserves credit for taking advantage of her opportunity. You can only beat who is in front of you…
And she was understandably delighted…
Serena came through what sounded like an emotionally exhausting quarter-final match against Venus, 6-2 1-6 6-3. The pair hit 59 winners to just 37 unforced errors during the one hour and 38 minute contest. In a way, it was unfortunate that Venus had to play Serena because her form could have taken her even deeper in this draw.
It’s a case of five down and two to go for Serena. On paper, this looks to be a one-sided semi-final and there’s no way really of sugar coating it. Vinci did put up a decent account of herself when she played Serena in Toronto last month, 6-4 6-3. Vinci’s had a super run at the US Open and will be back in the world’s top 25 next week.
Serena for the win.
Prediction: Williams d. Vinci in 2 sets