The expected Grand Slam in one calendar year for the previously all-conquering Serena Williams may have been thwarted, but nonetheless there was a popular winner at the US Open. In an all-Italian women’s singles final, it was the 33-year-old Flavia Pennetta who wrote herself into the record books and then promptly informed the world that she would be retiring from the sport at the end of the current season.

Serena shocked in semi-finals

As shocks go, Serena’s reversal in the semi-finals at the hands of 32-year-old Roberta Vinci would be right up there with the biggest in Tennis history.

The American had been expected to stroll through to the final in her home Slam, yet betrayed nerves throughout the contest against Vinci. That despite her opponent having never previously even taking a single set off her more illustrious rival. The Italian cleverly mixed up the play and it worked beautifully for her in a surprise 2-6 6-4 6-4 success,ablydemonstratingwhy sport can be so intriguing and hard to predict.

Halep also defeated by lower-ranked opposition

Pennetta’s dismissal of the third seed, Simona Halep in the other last-four tussle with an emphatic 6-1 6-3 victory was similarly surprising. The winner was ranked just 26 in the world this year but went one better than her previous best in 2013, when she had lost in the semis to Victoria Azarenka.

Italian history in the making

Given that neither of the finalists had ever featured in a Grand Slam final previously, it was a matter of debate as to which Italian would conquer their likely nerves and settle the best at Flushing Meadows. Both women knew that they could write themselves into Italian tennis folklore as only the second female from their country to clinch a Grand Slam singles title (Francesca Schiavone won the 2010 French Open).

Pennetta’s day

Pennetta proved the stronger player on the day against her childhood friend as the match seemed to hinge on the tight first set, after both women had converted a break apiece. Taking that in the tie-break by seven points to four seemed to free the shackles somewhat, as she took the second set in far more comfortable fashion and with it the match 7-6 6-2.

Decision to retire at the top

The winner announced her decision to retire from the game while on court at the end of the match. In echoes of Marion Bartoli’s similar announcement in 2013 after she had clinched the Wimbledon crown, Pennetta clearly decided that there was no better time to retire than after her best ever result. She also had the not too shabby winner’s pay cheque to the value of $3.3 million to fall back on as she ponders on her next career move.