New York - Unseeded Italian Roberta Vinci became the first woman through to the semi-finals of the U.S. Open on Tuesday, outlasting Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic 6-3 5-7 6-4 on another sizzling hot day at Flushing Meadows.
The 32-year-old veteran showed off her fighting spirit while Mladenovic, a decade younger, wilted in the punishing conditions using up all of her medical timeouts during the two-hour, 32-minute test.
A doubles specialist with a career grand slam on her resume, Vinci moved onto the final four in singles at a major for the first time in her 18-year career. She will take on the winner of the quarter-final between world number one Serena Williams and sister Venus.
"It's an amazing moment for me. Unbelievable," beamed 43rd-ranked Vinci. "My first semi-final in my career.
"It was an incredible match, so tight. But I fight a lot. At the end probably we both were a little bit tired and scared about the match but I'm so happy."
Vinci, well-rested after receiving a walkover into the quarter-finals when Canadian Eugenie Bouchard was forced out of the tournament with a concussion, was pushed but never panicked against the young Frenchwoman.
After splitting the opening two sets the turning point of the match came at 3-3 in the third, when Mladenovic double-faulted twice to hand Vinci a break chance and the Italian gratefully converted to take charge.
"It's not easy to play with your sister, and Serena has a lot of pressure, I think," said Vinci. "I'm so happy to be in the semi-finals so if I play Serena or Venus it doesn't matter."