WHAT HAPPENED: Down 3-1 in the opening set, No. 11 Flavia Pennetta stormed back to end the US Open hopes of American wild card Nicole Gibbs for the second consecutive year with a 6-4, 6-0 third-round victory in Arthur Ashe stadium on Saturday.
Last year Pennetta, 32, yielded just two games in a first round win over the former two-time NCAA singles champion that jump-started the Italian's run all the way to the semifinals.
Gibbs, 21, started the contest with authority, breaking Pennetta in the opening game and taking early command with a 3-1 lead. But the Italian reeled off three consecutive games as she cut down on her errors to take a 4-3 lead. Gibbs produced a shaky final service game of the set before gifting the Italian a one-set lead with a double fault.
By the second set, all Pennetta had to do was remain consistent, as the errors flew off the American's racquet. Gibbs committed 34 unforced errors, the last one on match point.
WHAT IT MEANS: Pennetta’s next hurdle will be the winner between No. 29 seed Casey Dellacqua of Australia and Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic. In addition to singles, Pennetta will have to focus on her efforts in the women’s doubles draw, in which she is playing with Martina Hingis on Saturday afternoon.
Despite the loss, Gibbs can walk away from the US Open knowing that she has posted personal-best results in the past month. Five of her best six career wins happened in the month of August, two of which happened at the Open over No. 41 Caroline Garcia and No. 25 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
QUESTION: Given the upsets that have occurred in the women’s draw, does Pennetta have a shot at surpassing her semifinal result from last year?