By Steve Keating
Italian veteran Flavia Pennetta reached the US Open semi-finals for the second time in three years on Wednesday, outsmarting fifth seed Petra Kvitova 4-6 6-4 6-2 to add to the Czech’s Flushing Meadows frustration.
The Italian flag will feature prominently in the semi-finals with the 33-year-old Pennetta joined in the last four by 32-year-old compatriot Roberta Vinci, who booked her spot on Tuesday with a victory over Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic.
“I was just trying to fight every ball, running and trying to push the most I can,” the Italian said in an on-court interview.
“The second set I was really in trouble, but I just kept going, playing and playing. It’s unbelievable.”
Pennetta has always been at home on the New York hard courts having now advanced to quarter-finals or beyond in six of her last seven visits to the National Tennis Center.
The same courts, however, have not been kind to Kvitova, the two-time Wimbledon champion, who never ventured past the fourth round until this year.
Kvitova, one of only two players to beat Serena Williams this season, had been in superb form winning her final US Open tune-up in New Haven and carried that momentum into Flushing Meadows, reaching the quarter-finals without dropping a set.
The Czech had looked well on her way to a first semi-final appearance when she easily took the opening but the veteran Pennetta kept her cool on another sizzling day in New York.
Serving at 5-4 in the second Pennetta wobbled, missing an easy winner to hand Kvitova a break chance but the Italian did not buckle and hung on to level the match and then dominated the third set as Kvitova wilted in the oppressive heat.
“It’s not just the heat, it’s the tension for the match, for what do you think you have to be, what do you want to be, what do you want to do,” said Pennetta.
“It’s so many things in your mind. You just try to take everything out of your mind and just play tennis.
“I’m sorry for her. It’s not a good feeling when you feel so tired and you cannot move very well.
“We played a really tough match, more than two hours running everywhere. She has to be proud of herself because she was playing up to the last point.”