Hello, and welcome to Sports Mole
's live coverage of the US Open
final between Roberta Vinci
and Flavia Pennetta
So then, who predicted this final? It's pointless me asking really isn't it because no-one in the world would have guessed correctly - well, unless you're Italian, maybe? Anyway, in around half an hour, Roberta Vinci and Flavia Pennetta will walk onto Arthur Ashe Stadium to contest the biggest match of their lives in the biggest tennis stadium in the world. Not a bad way to spend your Saturday, huh?
If you don't know how this final came about, where on earth have you been the past 24 hours?! The final was meant to be Serena Williams
's moment to secure the calendar Grand Slam after coming through the previous three Majors in 2015 without tasting defeat. However, no-one accounted for the sheer grit, determination and shot variety of Vinci, who hit back from losing the first set to beat the world number one in front of a stunned crowd.
Some have called it the biggest shock in the history of Grand Slam tennis. It has a case, but I don't think it was as jaw-dropping as Robin Soderling beating Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros. Nevertheless, we can all agree that none of us expected Vinci to come through that match, especially in the manner she did. What that has done though is set up a showdown with Italian compatriot Pennetta, who was equally as impressive on Friday afternoon.
Pennetta had already defeated Samantha Stosur and Petra Kvitova but she was considered to be the underdog against world number two Simona Halep. However, it took the 26th seed just 59 minutes to completely dismantle her opponent, who had no answer to the consistency and ferocity in which Pennetta was striking the ball. It will take something special to repeat that display, as it will with Vinci, but what we can expect is a 50/50 final between two players who will be aware that they will never have a better opportunity to join the illustrious list of Grand Slam champions.
Before we go any further, I should warn you that the weather doesn't look particularly great for the next few hours. I think we'll be alright until around 10pm, BST, but after that, storms look set to take over for the rest of the night. We'll obviously keep you informed as we progress through the next couple of hours.
HEAD TO HEAD! Tonight's match will represent the 10th time that Vinci and Pennetta have met on the WTA Tour, with their first meeting coming all the back in 2003! However, they have only played each other once in the last five years, and guess where that took place? Yup - Flushing Meadows. Pennetta ran out a 6-4 6-1 winner in the last eight in 2013, and that triumph gives her a 5-4 advantage in the head to head.
We've already had one match take place on Arthur Ashe today, and unfortunately for British fans, Jamie Murray missed out in a second successive Grand Slam final. The Scot and Australian partner John Peers suffered a straight-sets defeat to French pair Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut. You can read more about that match here
When I mentioned that both players were competing in their first Grand Slam final, I should have perhaps clarified that I meant in singles competition. Both Vinci and Pennetta have claimed doubles crowns over the past four years, with six titles being won between them. Vinci has won at each Major, including at Flushing Meadows in 2012, while Pennetta emerged victorious at the Australian Open in 2011.
The Italian PM is in town...
Talking of doubles titles, did you know that Vinci and Pennetta won the French Open girls title in 1999? I wonder if they ever imagined sharing a Grand Slam final stage together...
The players are due to walk onto Arthur Ashe any moment now. I'm sure there are a few nerves between the pair of them, despite all of their experience and the fact that they have won so many doubles titles. This is the number 26 seed against the world number 43.
Given the lack of American involvement and star-power, there had been some concern that there would be plenty of empty seats for this final, but fortunately, some tickets have been snapped up over the past 24 hours at cheaper-than-expected prices. That's good to see because these two players deserve their chance to play in front of a huge crowd.
With the questionable weather that is expected, you would have thought that the organisers would have started the rigmarole of the national anthem and presentations before now, but finally, we have two players making their way onto Arthur Ashe. Vinci looks to have the crowd on her side.
This is the view of Andy Murray's former coach Brad Gilbert. Let's hope so - it would make for a terrific final if both players bring their 'A' game.
Finally, we are ready to get started on Arthur Ashe. It will be Vinci to serve first.
How's that for your first game in a Grand Slam final? Vinci breezes to a hold to love but Pennetta didn't look great in that game.
Pennetta records her first point of the contest with a baseline winner before Vinci slices into the net to hand her opponent a 30-0 lead. It's Pennetta's game though after another Vinci slice fails to hit the target and the 26th seed is on the board.
Vinci's serve hasn't got a lot of pop on it but she doesn't half direct it into the right places. Three first serves in a row all force errors out of Pennetta, and she edges back in front.
After conceding the opening point, Pennetta finally shows a bit more authority by advancing into court to put away a smash, but she's lucky to survive when Vinci misses out with a forehand. Vinci gets to deuce but another miscued forehand is her downfall before Pennetta takes the game with a backhand winner into the open court. This final hasn't really got going so far.
BREAK! There's trouble for Vinci at 0-30, but she halves the deficit with a solid serve out wide. However, another wayward forehand gifts her opponent two break points, but Pennetta squanders both with weak efforts. Four more break points come and go but after a clever forehand catches Vinci in an awkward position, Pennetta takes her seventh break point when Vinci drills the ball into the net.
I've lost count of the amount of backhand slices that Vinci has played in this match. It's a shot that isn't really paying off either. Pennetta takes advantage with a backhand winner into the corner before an ace and drop shot help her to a love hold. Some rain is around 45 minutes away, apparently...
Vinci comes through with a hold to 30 but you feel as though this match belongs to Pennetta providing that she shows a little more aggression. She is currently too tentative when Vinci begins to slice the ball.
BREAK! A one-two behind her first serve gets Pennetta off to the perfect start before Vinci sends a return into the net. The pair trade meaty backhands to see Pennetta reach two game points. However, a double fault at the wrong moment creates all kind of problems for the 26th seed and a brilliant backhand winner earns Vinci her first break point of the final. It's taken too after Pennetta nets and we are back on level terms.
After the opening two points are shared, Pennetta ups the ante off the ground but with mixed results with her forehand. At 30-30, Vinci crushes a forehand winner into the corner for game point and it's taken when Pennetta makes the unforced error.
Pennetta races into a 40-0 lead, mainly thanks to her trademark cross-court backhand, but Vinci remains in the game with a super drop shot that leaves Pennetta stranded at the back of the court. Vinci then gets the benefit of a net cord and all of a sudden, we have a game on here, but Pennetta holds her nerve to convert a volley out of the reach of her opponent.
Like yesterday, it has taken Vinci's variety some time to take effect but now it has, she looks the better of the two players. A couple of winners help her to three game points but Pennetta replies with a blistering return. She follows that with a volley on the stretch, before Vinci slices a backhand into the net. Has the tide turned? Nope, not quite. Vinci pulls through after Pennetta goes long and she has guaranteed herself a tie-break.
After benefiting from a mistake from Pennetta for 15-15, Vinci is in control of the next rally but she goes wide, before following that with a poor return. A volley keeps Vinci in it but a beautiful drop volley from Pennetta takes us into a tie-break. That rain can't be far away...
A forehand winner gets Vinci off to the perfect start but Pennetta replies with a big serve down the middle. The next two points are shared, but the first mini-break goes to Pennetta after Vinci drills a forehand long. The world number 43 then does the same off her backhand wing and Pennetta is in charge at the change of ends.
Vinci retrieves the mini-break when Pennetta goes wide, but she immediately gives it back with a forehand into the net. That looked the wrong shot. Pennetta is not far away with a backhand down the line that would have given her three set points, but she has two to her name after a mistake from Vinci. The first is taken with a serve out wide that is returned into the net and Pennetta takes the opener.
Pennetta begins the second set with a drive volley onto the line, but Vinci lights up Arthur Ashe with an inventive way to execute a drop shot. She then ends the next rally with a drop volley at the net, but back comes Pennetta, who ends a three-point streak with a forehand into the corner.
BREAK!Vinci is using the drop shot to good effect but it proves to be her downfall in conceding two break points to Pennetta. She only needs one after drilling a backhand towards the baseline and her opponent can't react. Has Vinci got the energy to haul herself back from here?
After the first four points are shared, Vinci prevails from a rally after Pennetta hooks a forehand long, but what a reply from the first-set winner, who connects with a forehand into the corner. Pennetta takes the game when Vinci leaves the court open with a drop shot and her opponent has the easy task of hitting a backhand down the line. Big service game coming up for Vinci.
BREAK! The strong start to the game that Vinci required doesn't materialise and a poor volley sees her fall 0-30 behind. She halves the deficit with a smash but Pennetta has two more break points thanks to a backhand winner down the line. Vinci replies with a forehand winner down the same area of the court but she can't save the second as Vinci slices into the net. Vinci needs rain from here...
BREAK! At 15-30, Vinci gets a good look at a second serve but she goes for too much and it flies out. Let off for Pennetta. She makes the most of the second one, though, and it's break point for Vinci. It goes begging, but she has a second after tying up her opponent at the net. Pennetta looks tentative and Vinci takes advantage, smashing the ball into the corner and she is back in this set.
Pennetta appears to be caught in two minds now and it's doing her game no good at all. She misses a routine backhand before standing too far behind the baseline to allow Vinci to easily smash the ball out of her reach for two game points. Pennetta starts to show a bit of aggression but it's Vinci's game after a one-two off serve.
This has turned into an important game for the 26th seed and she delivers a mixed bag of shots. At 30-30 though, she gets lucky when Vinci nets a return but the half-volley lob that seals the game is majestic. She's one game away.
MATCH! Vinci begins a must-win service game with a shocker of a forehand into the tramlines before Pennetta moves two points away with a stunning backhand winner. Vinci looks to have half given up with an extremely poor lob that is given the treatment by Pennetta for three match points and Pennetta takes it with a forehand winner that catches the line!
Vinci may have hit the headlines yesterday, but today is Flavia Pennetta's day. In a match lasting 93 minutes, she has recorded a 7-6 6-2 triumph over Italian compatriot Roberta Vinci, who couldn't repeat the performance that was good enoguh to see off Serena Williams
Nice touch from Francesca Schiavone, who was the last Italian to win a Grand Slam title.
As the players wait for the presentation, the rain has started to fall in New York. How's that for timing! On that note, we are going to bring an end to our coverage for this match. Thank you for joining us and we hope to see you tomorrow night for the men's final between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. Goodbye for now.