New York - Simona Halep will be the young gun in a US Open semi-final
line-up that features three 30-somethings after the Romanian beat Victoria
Azarenka 6-3 4-6 6-4 on Wednesday as rain hit the grand slam for the first
Despite the gloomy weather the Italian flag was flying proudly over the US
Open after Flavia Pennetta toppled Czech fifth seed Petra Kvitova 4-6 6-4 6-2
to join compatriot Roberta Vinci in the last four.
Defying the odds, rankings and age, 33-year-old Pennetta and 32-year-old
Vinci put their name in the record books by becoming the first two Italian
women in the Open Era to reach the semi-finals of any grand slam.
With 33-year-old Serena Williams also in the last four, 23-year-old Halep
will be giving up close to decade of experience to all her remaining
"I mean, of course we are a little bit old for the age of tennis right
now," said Pennetta. "But we are here. We still fight."
The dream of an All-Italian US Open final, however, will require some
special magic particularly from Vinci, who has the daunting task of facing
three-times defending US Open champion and world number one Williams.
Pennetta will take on second seeded Romanian Halep.
Chasing her first grand slam singles title, Halep came out strong against
Azarenka and took the opening set but as storm clouds rolled in so did trouble
for the diminutive Romanian as the Belarusian sent her scurrying from corner to
corner to level the quarter-final at one set apiece.
A light rain during the fourth game of the third set forced them off the
court for 85 minutes but when the players returned to Arthur Ashe Stadium, a
revived Halep took command.
"I was a bit tired after the second set and that break helped me.
Thanks God, for raining," said Halep, who was cheered on by a noisy
contingent of flag-waving Romanians. "I found the power to give everything
to win this one because I really wanted to play first time the semi-finals
Pennetta has always been at home on the New York hard-courts having now
advanced to at least the quarter-finals in six of her last seven visits to the
National Tennis Centre.
The same courts, however, have not been kind to Kvitova, the two-times
Wimbledon champion, who never ventured past the fourth round until this year.
Kvitova, one of only two players to beat Williams this season, had been in
superb form winning her final US Open tune-up in New Haven and carried that
momentum into Flushing Meadows, reaching the quarter-finals without dropping a
The Czech had looked well on her way to a first semi-final appearance when
she easily took the opening set but the veteran Pennetta kept her cool on
another sizzling morning in New York.
Serving at 5-4 in the second Pennetta wobbled, missing an easy winner to
hand Kvitova a break chance but the Italian did not buckle and hung on to level
the match and then dominated the third set as Kvitova wilted in the oppressive
"Before the tournament I never think to be so far in the tournament, so
it's something special," said Pennetta. "I didn't play really well in
the last week and the feeling was not that good.
"I just come here and try to practice, try to find the good feeling
with the ball, with the atmosphere here, and everything it seems to be