New York: Two Italians have reached the semi-finals of a Grand Slam event for the first time in the Open Era, with Roberta Vinci and Flavia Pennetta into the US Open last four.
And while it would require shocking one of the two top-ranked players in the world on Thursday, one of them could become the first Italian in a US Open singles final.
"Of course I`m very proud," Pennetta said. "I think this is very important."
Pennetta, ranked 26th, advanced to the last four with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 triumph over Czech fifth seed Petra Kvitova to make her second US Open semi-final in three years, this time against second-ranked Romanian Simona Halep.
And that follows 43rd-ranked Vinci defeating France`s Kristina Mladenovic on Tuesday to book her first Grand Slam semi-final berth against world number one Serena Williams who is bidding for a calendar Grand Slam and her 22nd major title, her fifth in a row.
"When I saw Roberta in the locker room, I hugged her and I said she was amazing also," Pennetta said.
"I think this is really important for our country. We did a lot of good things in the last 10 years. It`s really good for Italian tennis to have such good players."
And she didn`t shy away from the age issue. At 33, Pennetta is a year older than Vinci.
"We are old. I know. I mean, old for tennis. For life we are younger," Pennetta said. "A lot of young players coming in since the Olympics, I think, was a little bit of change of generation.
"But we are here. We still fight. We still enjoy what we do."
There are six Italian women in the world rankings top 40.
"In Italy there are so many good players. I`m proud. I`m really happy," Vinci said. "I`m 32. I`m not young. I`m at the end of my career, so my first semi-final, it`s incredible. When you work hard for a long time and every single day, sometimes you have some periods down and try to come back. It`s not always easy."
Italian women won three Fed Cups in five years between 2009-2013 and Francesca Schiavone won the 2010 French Open title.
"It was really important for all of us," Pennetta said. "I started 2009 with the top 10 and then Francesca won Roland Garros... everyone was pushing the other one. It was really important for us to have someone before us just to try to catch all the time."