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Flavia Pennetta wins the US Open

13th September, 2015

NEW YORK -- It was the unlikeliest of Grand Slam finals, but it turned out to be of the highest quality, and it ended in an absolute bombshell - Flavia Pennetta outdid Roberta Vinci in an historic US Open final for her first Grand Slam title and then announced she'll be retiring from the sport.

Neither player saw a run like this coming into the tournament - Pennetta, the No.26 seed, and Vinci, not even seeded. And they took out all the biggest names in the game along the way, Pennetta taking out No.4 seed Petra Kvitova and No.2 seed Simona Halep in the quarters and semis, and Vinci pulling off what might be one of the biggest upsets of all time, stunning the World No.1, Serena Williams.

Flavia Pennetta Flavia Pennetta
But once they stepped out on the court Saturday it was all business, with Pennetta breaking for an early 4-2 lead but Vinci breaking right back, and the two going to a tie-break to decide the opening set.

Pennetta came through that one and her momentum only grew from there as she jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the second set, and she never really looked back, eventually closing Vinci out, 7-6(4), 6-2.

And then came the trophy speeches - first Vinci, who, despite finishing runner-up, was elated anyway.

"The past 24 hours I've had a lot of things on my mind, and I was a little bit tired, especially in the first set," Vinci said. "But I lost in the finals - I'm really happy, and of course really happy for Flavia. It's tough to play against a player you've known for a long time, but I tried to do my best. Flavia just played unbelievable today. It was a great match, and I have to just say congratulations to her. And I would like to say thank you to everyone who came to watch - I'll see you next year!"

Pennetta then took the microphone for her champion's trophy speech.

"I'm really happy right now," she said. "I have to say, before this tournament I never thought I'd be so far. I never thought I'd be the champion here. It's amazing when big surprises like this happen. It's a dream come true. When I was young, I was always thinking to be No.1 and win a Grand Slam. I also wanted to win Rome, but a Grand Slam is maybe a little better! But it's a dream come true. It's also nice to play with a friend of mine. Roberta played unbelievable. She had an incredible week."

But just as the microphone was being taken away, she had one last thing to say.

"There's one more thing I'd like to say - it's the way I would like to say goodbye to tennis."

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Great day to be French in New York

31st August, 2015

NEW YORK -- It was a great day to be French at the US Open on Monday with unheralded Benoit Paire stealing the headlines by knocking out fourth seed Kei Nishikori, last year's runner-up.

Joining the world number 41 in a demolition of the seeds were Kristina Mladenovic, who knocked out 2004 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, and teenager Oceane Dodin, who put out Jelena Jankovic, the 2008 runner-up.

Paire saved two match points to beat Nishikori 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-4, firing 21 aces and 64 winners as an ambitious policy of all-out attack paid dividends for the 26-year-old. It was also revenge for a loss he suffered at the hands of the Japanese at the 2013 French Open.

"When I come on the court, I say, come on. You can beat Kei," said Paire. "He has a game -- but it's not like if I play against Roger Federer."

Paire, one of 11 Frenchmen in the draw, came into New York buoyed by a first career title at Bastad in Sweden. But before Monday, he had never defeated a top-10 player at the majors in four attempts.

"The thing is you have to have pleasure in the match. You have to feel good on court, to have fun, you know," he said after his stunning win on Louis Armstrong Stadium. "My coach told me the most important thing is when you go out of the court, you win, you lose, you don't care, just have fun."

World number 40 Mladenovic cruised past Russian 30th seed Kuznetsova 6-3, 7-5 to make the second round for the third time.

"I expected a tough, physical battle," said world number 40 Mladenovic, who has a steady year in the Slams, making the third round at the French Open and Wimbledon. "I was focused when necessary and aggressive on the key moments. Each win at a Grand Slam is to be cherished. It didn't matter who I was facing today. She has won two major titles and she is a player who is well respected. I remember watching her win the US Open in 2004 on TV."

Dodin, just 18 and ranked at 128 in the world, was just seven when 21st seed Jankovic made the final in 2008. But the wildcard showed great determination to carve out a 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 win on her US Open debut and just her fifth main tour event of 2015.

In contrast, former world number one Jankovic was playing the US Open for a 12th successive year.

"It's the finest win of my little Grand Slam career," said Dodin. "I was down 6-2, 4-3 at one stage and I saw it slipping away. I didn't know what to do. But I just believed in myself and told myself it was possible."

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the 19th seed and a quarter-finalist in 2009, also struck a blow for France, although his was far more predictable. He swept to a 6-3, 6-1, 6-1 win over Jarkko Nieminen, the veteran Finn who was playing his last Grand Slam event before retirement.

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Serena's road to Grand Slam goes through Venus, Sharapova

28th August, 2015

NEW YORK -- Serena Williams' path to a historic Grand Slam could run though a number of fellow Americans - including sister Venus - in the first week and rival Maria Sharapova in the semifinals.

The draw for the 2015 US Open was held Thursday at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York and pitted Serena against 25-year-old Russian Vitalia Diatchenko, ranked No. 86 in the world, in the first round.

Serena Williams Serena Williams
Looking to complete just the third calendar-year Grand Slam in the Open era, Williams, who turns 34 later this fall, would face either Croatian Mirjana Lucic-Baroni or a qualifier in the second round.

Eight other Americans are in Serena's quarter of the draw, including possible third-round opponent Sloane Stephens and potential fourth-round opponent Madison Keys. Two-time US Open champion Venus Williams, seeded 23rd, could face her sister in the quarterfinals, although she would first likely need to beat 12th-seeded Belinda Bencic in the third round and No. 8 seed Karolina Pliskova in the round of 16.

"We will have to see," Serena said about the stacked American quarter of her draw. "I don't look at the draw and so I didn't see the American quarter. But you have Sloane and I seem to get her every tournament, and Madison is playing very well. Sloane is playing excellent, so it is nothing simple or easy to go through."

If the seeds win out according to their rankings, Serena would meet 2006 US Open champion and third seed Maria Sharapova in the semifinals and No. 2 seed Simona Halep in the final. Williams is 18-2 lifetime against Sharapova, including victories in each of their past 17 meetings, and she has a career 6-1 record against Halep.

Sharapova faces Australia's Daria Gavrilova in the first round and could meet either Croatian teenager Ana Konjuh or Germany's Tatjana Maria in the second round. In a potential all-Russian matchup, Sharapova could meet 2004 US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the third round. Elsewhere in Sharapova's quarter, No. 7 seed Ana Ivanovic faces Dominika Cibulkova and could meet No. 25 seed Eugenie Bouchard in the third round.

In the bottom half of the draw, Halep starts against New Zealander Marina Erakovic and could meet No. 27 seed Alize Cornet in the third round, No. 14 Timea Bacsinszky in the fourth round and No. 6 Lucie Safarova in the quarterfinals.

No. 4 seed Caroline Wozniacki has a first-round encounter with American wild card Jamie Loeb and possible third-round match with No. 26 Flavia Pennetta. Sara Errani, seeded 16th, is in Wozniacki's section and could meet the Dane in the fourth round. Petra Kvitova, the No. 5 seed, would meet Wozniacki in the quarterfinals if both players advance through their first four matches. 2011 US Open winner Sam Stosur faces Timea Babos in Round 1 and could possibly face No. 16 seed Sara Errani in the third round.

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Serena, Djokovic announced as top seeds at 2015 US Open

26th August, 2015

NEW YORK -- Three-time defending champion Serena Williams and 2011 winner Novak Djokovic were announced as the top seeds at the 2015 US Open on Tuesday. It marks the first time the same man and woman have been the top seeds for three years in a row since Steffi Graf and Ivan Lendl, 1987-89.

The seeds were determined based on Monday's ATP World Tour and WTA rankings.

In the women's draw, world No. 1 Williams is looking to win her seventh US Open, which would surpass Chris Evert for the most US Open women's singles titles in the Open era. A victory in Flushing Meadows would also tie Steffi Graf's Open era record of 22 major titles and complete the calendar-year Grand Slam, last won in 1988 by Graf.

Serena Williams Serena Williams
Following Williams at No. 2 seed is 2014 French Open finalist Simona Halep. The remainder of the top four are No. 3 seed and 2006 US Open champion Maria Sharapova and No. 4 seed and 2014 US Open finalist Caroline Wozniacki. Williams would not meet Halep until the final but could face either Sharapova or Wozniacki in the semifinal depending on which half of the draw they're in.

Petra Kvitova, who won Wimbledon in 2011 and 2014, will be seeded fifth, with 2015 French Open finalist Lucie Safarova seeded sixth. Former world No. 1 and US Open finalist Victoria Azarenka is seeded No. 20, 2011 champion Samantha Stosur No. 22, two-time US Open champion Venus Williams No. 23 and 2004 US Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova is No. 30.

In the men's draw, five-time US Open champion Roger Federer will be the No. 2 seed following his victory at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati on Sunday. Federer is seeded at the US Open for the 15th straight year, which surpasses Lendl for the second longest streak in the Open era, trailing only Jimmy Connors' 18 consecutive years.

In addition to Djokovic and Federer, who won the tournament five straight years from 2004 to 2008, former US Open champions Andy Murray (2012), Rafael Nadal (2010, 2013) and Marin Cilic (2014) are all seeded in the Top 10 - Murray at No. 3, Nadal at No. 8 and Cilic at No. 9. 2001 US Open champion Lleyton Hewitt, playing for a final time in Flushing Meadows, is unseeded.

Murray comes into the US Open as the Emirates Airline US Open Series men's champion and will attempt to set a record for the largest payout in tennis history. He would earn $3.3 million for winning the US Open and an additional $1 million for winning the US Open as Emirates Airline US Open Series champion. The Series champion for the women has not yet been decided.

Nadal would not meet a Top 8 seed until the quarterfinals at the earliest, meaning he dodges any potential blockbuster matchups with Djokovic, Federer or Murray until at least the quarterfinals. Kei Nishikori, who lost to Cilic in last year's final, is seeded fourth, with reigning French Open champion Stan Wawrinka seeded fifth.

There are 19 different nationalities represented among the 32 seeded men, led by Spain with six. In the women's draw, 20 nationalities are represented, with the United States and Russia each featuring four players. In the 14 years since the US Open began seeding 32 men and women in 2001, the No. 1 seed has won the men's singles tournament six times and the women's singles tournament on four occasions.

The singles draws for the 2015 US Open will be revealed live during an official draw ceremony on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. ET at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The draw will be streamed live on USOpen.org.

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