Vinci gives herself tough U.S. Open act to follow

Mon Aug 29, 2016 3:59pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

NEW YORK (Reuters) - As far as U.S. Open encores go they don't come much tougher than the act Roberta Vinci has to follow after pulling off one of the biggest upsets ever at a grand slam during her magical run to last year's final.

Believing nothing could top last year when she stunned world number one Serena Williams in the semi-final before losing in the final to fellow Italian Flavia Pennetta, Vinci has returned to Flushing Meadows looking to go one step further.

Her long road back to the final began on Monday with a quiet 6-4 6-2 first-round win over Germany's Anna-Lena Friedsam on the same Arthur Ashe Stadium court she left in stunned silence a year earlier when she ended Williams's bid for a calendar grand slam.

"It's a dream to come back here." said Vinci. "Last year I had incredible emotion, I made final beat Serena this is a very special court to me."

A year ago oddsmakers had set the unseeded Vinci as a 300-1 longshot to win the season's final grand slam and the tale of the tape offered no hints of possible upset.

Williams, a 21-times major winner with a calendar grand slam within her grasp, entered the match having lost just twice all season and was riding a 33-match grand slam unbeaten streak.

As for Vinci, she had never been past the quarter-finals in her previous 43 grand slam appearances and had never taken a set from Williams in their four previous meetings.

Even Vinci did not fancy those odds and was preparing to pack her bags for a trip back to Taranto before pulling off the David v Goliath upset with a 2-6 6-4 6-4 win over Williams.   Continued...

Aug 29, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Roberta Vinci of Italy after beating Anna-Lena Friedsam of Germany on day one of the 2016 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports