U.S. Open: Serena Williams, Simona Halep Into Women’s Singles Semifinals

Simona Halep
The Associated Press

The 2015 U.S. Open Women’s singles semifinals bracket is set. Two Italians, one Romanian, and quite possibly the greatest female athlete on the planet will play on Thursday night.

Both matches take place tonight on ESPN starting at 7 p.m. Eastern:

Serena Williams vs. Roberta Vinci

Flavia Pennetta vs. Simona Halep

Serena Williams stands only two victories away from a calendar Grand Slam. But to get there she beat her beloved older sister Venus. Nothing beats a match between these women due to their athletic ability and kinship. Venus returned to her former self during this run and she appeared to be on track to defeat her little sister in the second set. But Serena held her serve and broke Venus in the third set to win the match.

The ladies embraced at the net and Venus whispered to Serena, “I’m so happy for you.” Today, Serena shared this sweet photo of the inseparable pair.

For the first time in U.S. Open history, two Italian women will appear in the semifinals. Serena will play one of them, Roberta Vinci, who should be much easier for the world number one. She did not lose to the Italian in four previous meetings. Vinci received a walkover to the quarterfinals after Canadian Eugenie Bouchard withdrew due to a concussion. She defeated Kristina Mladenovic in three sets. The first set was easy, but Mladenovic fought back hard. The second and third set each lasted over an hour, but the Italian won due to a better second serve and a break.

Flavia Pennetta is the other Italian to advance after she defeated fifth seed Petra Kvitova in three sets. Kvitova appeared to be on the right track after the first set, but Pennetta wore her out and the Czech completely collapsed. Pennetta remained calm and collected while Kvitova committed error after error. To top it off, Pennetta never once faced a break point in the third set.

Pennetta will face Halep, who defeated Victoria Azarenka in three sets. With a stronger and more precise serve, she coasted to an easy first set victory. But Azarenka shook her up in the second set with an all-important third break. The third set could have gone either way with the ladies exchanging breaks, but rain set in and delayed them for over 30 minutes. Halep came back more composed to snatch the victory from Azarenka.