Day 9 of the US Open featured more than a few 30-somethings in the mid-late rounds of men’s and women’s singles. Flavia Pennetta, 31, upset countrywoman Roberta Vinci, 30. Pennetta, who had fallen down to being the fourth ranked Italian, behind Errani, the best Italian, and Vinci, one of her erstwhile doubles partners. While Pennetta is currently ranked No. 85, she dominated Vinci, 6-4, 6-1, to reach her first ever semifinal of a Major.
The “youngster” of the day, Victoria Azarenka, 24, beat 30-year-old Daniela Hantuchova, 6-2, 6-3. The hope is this sets up a meeting with Serena Williams in a final, the two women who are the greatest rivals at this point in the women’s game, though Azarenka still has to beat Flavia Pennetta. For them to meet, however, Williams will have to beat the great Chinese star and fellow 31-year-old, Li Na.
On the men’s side, Richard Gasquet emerged as the winner of a 5-set battle with David Ferrer, another 31-year-old. Gasquet dominated the first two sets, in a surprise over the No. 4 seed, who has had a lackluster summer. Ferrer evened the match to 2-sets a piece, but Gasquet fulfilled the aggression he brought to the beginning of the match, and closed it out for 6-3, 6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3.
The Frenchman Gasquet is 27 — on the younger edge of today’s players — and he will meet Rafael Nadal, also 27, who beat his countryman, Tommy Robredo, 31, the vanquisher of Roger Federer in the Round of 16. Robredo went down without seriously troubling Nadal. Final score: 6-0, 6-2, 6-2. Nadal has yet to drop his serve the entire tournament.
That so many 31-year-olds have lasted so long in this tournament, one has to say that 1981-82 must have been a great vintage for tennis players, if a somewhat late-maturing grape.