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Women's Match of the Decade No. 1: Vinci d. Serena, 2015 US Open
The Italian played her game, one that she learned in the 20th century—when net-rushers and one-handers still plied their subtle trades—to claim the semifinal encounter, 2–6, 6–4, 6–4.
Published Dec 06, 2019
Over the next two weeks, we're looking back at 10 years’ worth of memorable marathons and top-shelf tennis from the WTA’s boldest and bravest.
See the entire women's and men's lists here, and relive each match with our video retrospectives.
They say the first step to winning a match is believing you can do it. Does Roberta Vinci’s upset for the ages prove that theory wrong?
When it was over, and Vinci had stopped Serena Williams two wins short of a calendar-year Grand Slam, the Italian was asked if she had believed she could win beforehand. “No!” she cried.
How about after she had pushed Serena to a third set? “Never!” she cried again.
So how did this 32-year-old, who had never before reached a Grand Slam semifinal, win one in a tournament she began as a 300-1 underdog? Vinci played, as she said, “The best match of my life.”
More important, she played her game, one that she learned in the 20th century, when net-rushers and one-handers still plied their subtle trades. Vinci mixed her soft, slice backhand with her hard, flat forehand, and kept Serena from swinging freely.
Serena was 26–0 in matches at majors in 2015; all year she willed them to turn her way. This time, with a chance to close it out in the second set, her feet got tangled on a crucial passing shot. After that, the match turned against her.
Vinci won with guile, and with guts. Serving at 5–4 in the third and shaking like a leaf, she won one point with a gorgeous backhand slice, and another with a delicate drop volley. Asked how she felt after match point, the 43rd-ranked Vinci dragged her finger across her forehead and let out a long, “Phweeeeewww.”
She hadn’t believed, but she’d won anyway.