<
>

Will Vinci experience letdown against countrywoman Pennetta?

NEW YORK -- It is tempting to say it's a US Open women's final only Italy could love after the Serena Williams' Grand Slam bubble burst Friday.

But looking ahead to the unlikeliest of showdowns, the oldest major women's final in the Open era might just turn out to be one of the most entertaining.

"One Italian will win for sure," a grinning Vinci said.

The clash of Italians Roberta Vinci and Flavia Pennetta will feature two players better known for their doubles accomplishments.

"It will be a tough match for both tomorrow. I think a lot of pressure," Vinci said. "But we know each other for a long time. ... I remember [in 2013] that I was completely scared, like a little bit blocked. I didn't play.

And as an added bonus, US Open mixed doubles champion Martina Hingis is a Vinci fan.

"She wasn't scared [today] to go in and take her opportunities and close out the match with two points at the net," Hingis said in her news conference after winning the mixed-doubles title with Leander Paes. "Like two pick-up volleys that a singles player doesn't always do. She's got one of the greatest hands at the net. That's why she's able to do it on big points."

Here are three reasons why each finalist will win her first Grand Slam singles title.

Roberta Vinci

1. Momentum, anyone? The likeable 32-year-old, unseeded and ranked 43rd in the world, played a semifinal match that Serena called "the best tennis of her career," saying Vinci performed "literally out of her mind."

If you can be "literally" out of your mind, you can certainly ride the high of one of the biggest upsets in sports and string together two good matches against a player who is one year her senior and a similarly long longshot.

2. Vinci has a game that confounded Williams with a variety of speeds and shots and a one-handed backhand that can keep Pennetta off-balance as well. Vinci is also an outstanding serve returner.

3. Vinci is a better player than the last time she played Pennetta, losing 6-4, 6-1 in the 2013 US Open quarterfinals. Vinci said she will be better prepared and certainly more confident this time around.

Flavia Pennetta

1. She leads the head-to-head with Vinci. Granted, it is by only a 5-4 margin, but the last time Vinci beat Pennetta on hard courts came in Tokyo in 2009.

2. Yes, the 26th seed is also playing in her first Grand Slam final, but she has advanced to the quarterfinals here in six of the past seven years and is a two-time Open semifinalist.

3. You have to worry about the emotional letdown from Vinci after she created one of the great upsets in history. Granted, Pennetta has had a tough road herself, knocking off former US Open champ Samantha Stosur, Petra Kvitova and No. 2 Simona Halep in her past three matches.