'Perfect' triumph caps Pennetta's career

Updated: 2015-09-14 07:51

By Reuters In New York(China Daily)

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Calling it quits after all-Italian final against childhood friend

For Flavia Pennetta, summing up her shocking US Open triumph was easily described in a single word.


Pennetta, at 33 the oldest first-time Grand Slam finalist in the Open era, on Saturday became the first Italian to win the US Open women's crown with an efficient 7-6 (4), 6-2 victory over compatriot and childhood friend Roberta Vinci.

Before accepting the trophy and $3.3 million for the win that easily marked the greatest triumph of her career, Pennetta announced her retirement.

"My life is perfect," Pennetta said when asked how she would look back at the championship.

"Perfect. This one was my last US Open match and I couldn't think to finish in a better way."

Two weeks ago, no one could have predicted a final between the 26th-ranked Pennetta, then rated a 150-1 outsider, and the 43rd-ranked Vinci, an even longer shot at 300-1.

But both players refused to be swayed by the odds and fought their way through to the most unlikely title showdown in memory.

Pennetta, who is engaged to fellow Italian player Fabio Fognini, said she would play to the end of the season, including tournaments in Wuhan, Beijing and possibly the elite eight-woman WTA Finals in Singapore.

Adding to their collective joy, Fognini also had a magical moment at the Open, coming back from two sets down to eliminate 14-time Grand Slam winner Rafa Nadal in the third round with an inspired performance.

Having battled injuries on a regular basis in recent years, Pennetta said she made the decision to call time on her career at last month's Toronto event.

"Sometimes it's getting hard for me to compete," she said.

"When you are on the court, when you have to play 24 weeks in the year, you have to fight every week.

"And if you don't fight every week in the same way I did today, it's gonna be bad. I don't feel I have this power anymore sometimes.

"So this is the perfect moment, I think. It was a really hard decision to make, but I'm really happy that I did it. I'm really happy and proud of myself."

Better than expected

Pennetta, who previously climbed as high as 10th in the rankings in 2009 and will shoot up to No 8 after this success, always seemed to save her best Grand Slam performances for the US Open.

Prior to this week, she was a semifinalist in New York in 2013 and reached the Flushing Meadows quarterfinals on four other occasions.

"I think I did everything that I expected," she said of her career. "More. Much more."

There to congratulate both finalists was Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

"He said, 'You won't understand what will happen now in Italy. It's good that you are here because it's going to be crazy back in Italy now. It's good to stay here a few days, just relax a little bit and then go back home,'" said Pennetta.

Making the occasion extra special was sharing the stage with Vinci, who had miraculously overcome top-seeded world No 1 Serena Williams with a stunning semifinal victory that crushed the American's dream of completing a calendar grand slam.

"She is like a sister," said Pennetta. "It's so magical, you have one of your best friends with you in this moment. It's amazing."

They met some 24 years ago as young players in southern Italy.

"It's funny to be here today, because we played our first match when we were nine years old," she said, adding that they moved to Rome together when she was 14.

"We spent four years in a house together in the same room in Rome at the Italian Federation.

"We have so many things in our life happening together. So today was a really big day for both of us."