Williams dream over
Roberta Vinci caused a massive shock in defeating Serena Williams to set up an all-Italian US Open final.
With the top two seeds in the women's singles still in the tournament at the semi-final stage, few would have predicted that both would miss out and two Grand Slam final debutants would compete to win the US Open.
Serena Williams and Simona Halep were seeded to meet in the final and were expected to have few problems accounting for Roberta Vinci and Flavia Pennetta, yet it was the two outsiders who won through for an all-Italian women's final.
For Williams the disappointment of missing out was compounded by the fact she was so close to achieving her dream of a calendar slam, winning all four Grand Slams in the same year.
She had battled through to win in Melbourne, Paris and at Wimbledon and was just two games away from the honour, last achieved by Steffi Graf in 1988.
The top seed came from a set down to beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands and then impressed in beating fellow American Madison Keys in the fourth round. In the last eight she beat sister Venus in three sets and was expected to have few problems in disposing of Vinci.
Vinci does however have a better record in New York than at the other slams, having reached the quarter-finals in 2012 and 2013 - and this year, in the three other major tournaments she had won just one match.
She had been better known as a successful doubles player, winning five Grand Slam titles with partner Sara Errani, including this year's French Open and Wimbledon.
Going into the semi-final she had met Williams four times previously, the American coming through in straight sets each time and this meeting appeared to be following the same pattern when Williams cruised through the first set, winning it 6-2.
However, Vinci forced her way back, unnerving the top seed and forcing errors from the Williams racquet. She took the second set 6-4 and Williams had a fight on her hands.
The top seed recovered at the start of the deciding set, breaking for a 2-0 lead. However, she was broken straight back and another Vinci break in game seven gave the Italian the best singles victory of her career.
Her opponent in the final, Flavia Pennetta is another Grand Slam final debutant at the age of 33. Her previous best was also at the US Open, reaching the semi-finals in 2013 before losing out to Victoria Azarenka.
This year, she came from a set down to beat Petra Cetkovska in the third round and Petra Kvitova in the quarter-finals before facing second seed Halep for a place in the final.
The Romanian was in form coming into the US Open, having reached finals in the warm-up events in Toronto and Cincinnati, and in New York, had beaten Sabine Lisicki and Azarenka to reach the last four.
However, in the semi-final she never really got going in her bid to reach her second Grand Slam final. She lost the first set 6-1 and, though she fought back at the start of the second, taking three games in a row, her momentum was not to last too long.
Pennetta then won 15 points in a row and 19 of the last 21 to take the game away from Halep and win the match 6-1 6-3.
So, the final Grand Slam of the year will have a new winner. The Italian pair have met nine times before with Pennetta, the higher ranked player winning five including the last two; at the French Open in 2010 and the US Open quarter-finals in 2013.