Roberta Vinci beat her opponent and the rain to storm into the quarter-finals of the US Open yesterday just before a thunderstorm forced play to be suspended.
Vinci needed just over an hour to defeat fellow Italian Camila Giorgi 6-4, 6-2 and reach the last eight at Flushing Meadows for the second year in a row. The match finished just minutes before the arrival of heavy showers that forced play to be halted on all the courts as players and spectators ran for cover.
When the rain came, Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova was closing in on her first quarter-final appearance at the US Open in more than a decade, leading American wildcard Alison Riske 6-3, 4-4 at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Romania’s Simona Halep, one of the hottest players on tour with four WTA titles since June, was just one point away from levelling her match with Flavia Pennetta at Louis Armstrong Stadium. Halep lost the opening set 6-2 and fell 4-2 behind in the second before reeling off three games in a row and reaching set point on her own serve.
Better known as a doubles player, Vinci made light work of her match with Giorgi, who had come through the qualifiers just to get into the main draw. Giorgi upset former world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki to reach the fourth round but was outgunned by the more experienced Vinci, ranked No 1 in the world in doubles and defending her US Open doubles title she won last year with Sara Errani.
In the late-night action on Sunday, Serena Williams gained revenge for her Australian Open defeat by sweeping past fellow American Sloane Stephens and into the quarter-finals.
As soon as the draw was made, it was the match-up that most excited the home nation as America’s current leading lady was pitted against the player who could be the future No 1. But Williams asserted her authority and ran out a 6-4, 6-1 winner on Arthur Ashe.
“It definitely feels like a real big match,” Williams said on-court to a crowd divided in its loyalties.
“How excited are we about the future of American tennis?” Serena asked, drawing roars from the stands. “It definitely felt like something bigger.”