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September 12, 2015

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Serena’s grand slam bid on hold

SERENA Williams will have to wait before continuing her bid for a calendar-year grand slam — her US Open semifinal was postponed because of rain.

The top-seeded Williams was supposed to face 43rd-ranked Roberta Vinci of Italy on Thursday at Flushing Meadows, but nearly four hours before that match would have started, the US Tennis Association, citing a prediction of “rain throughout the evening,” pushed back the women’s semifinals until yesterday.

When the USTA announced the rescheduling, there were doubles and juniors matches in progress. But the rain did eventually arrive, wiping out play, a little more than an hour before Williams and Vinci were supposed to take the court. It was drizzling at 7pm, when that match would have started.

It comes in the first year since USTA scrapped the old “Super Saturday” schedule of men’s semifinals and women’s final in one day in favor of a regular grand slam format, giving players a day off before their semifinal and final.

Williams is trying to become the first player since Steffi Graf in 1988 to earn all four grand slam titles in a single season. She won the Australian Open in January, the French Open in June and Wimbledon in July.

Now the 33-year-old American has won her first five matches at the US Open, and needs two more victories to add that championship to her 2015 collection.

The other women’s semifinal is No. 2 Simona Halep of Romania against No. 26 Flavia Pennetta of Italy.

The rescheduling created a high-profile and packed schedule when the men’s semifinals already were slotted. No. 1 Novak Djokovic was to meet defending champion Marin Cilic, and No. 2 Roger Federer plays his Swiss Olympic and Davis Cup teammate, No. 5 Stan Wawrinka. Djokovic is 13-0 all-time against Cilic and if he stays perfect in the rivalry he will reach his fifth US Open final in six years, having only won the title in 2011. Last year, Djokovic lost to Japan’s Kei Nishikori in the semifinals.

The US Open has a long history of scheduling problems because of weather, including five consecutive men’s finals postponed from Sunday to Monday from 2008-12. As part of a broader, US$500 million-plus renovation plan for the tournament site, the USTA has been constructing a retractable roof over the main court, Arthur Ashe Stadium, that is planned for next year’s US Open.

For now, a framework of more than 6,500 tons of steel sits atop that stadium, but the work to install the retractable panels will resume after this year’s tournament ends.


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