New York: Roberta Vinci was so convinced she would lose to Serena Williams in the US Open semi-finals that she booked a flight out Saturday, never expecting to reach the championship match.
But Vinci`s "magic moment" has forced a major change in plan.
The 32-year-old Italian stunned 21-time Grand Slam champion Williams 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 Friday, dooming the top-ranked defending champion`s dream of completing a calendar Grand Slam and matching the Open Era record with a 22nd career Grand Slam crown.
"I called my travel agency to say, OK, book me a flight, because you know... and then now I have my final tomorrow," Vinci said. "So it`s incredible."
Vinci`s astounding upset advanced the world number 43 into an all-Italian women`s final against 26th-ranked Flavia Pennetta, who defeated second-ranked Simona Halep in the other semi-final.
"This is the best match I played in my life," Vinci said.
"It`s amazing. It`s a magic moment for me. You work so hard for a long time. It`s incredible. It`s amazing. It`s like a dream."
Smiling and exuberant, Vinci spared a moment to ponder the pain Williams must have felt at coming so close to becoming just the fifth player to achieve a calendar-year sweep of Grand Slam titles.
"I`m really happy, but of course I`m a little bit really sad for Serena because she`s an incredible player, number one, almost all the Grand Slams," Vinci said.
"Almost to complete all Grand Slams. She deserved to win. She`s the number one. So I was a little bit sorry for this because of me she cannot reach the Grand Slam."
Vinci had never reached a Grand Slam semi-final until this week and now she finds herself one victory from an improbable Slam trophy.
"It`s incredible. I`m 32, almost at the end of my career, and then I make the first US Open final in Grand Slam. I didn`t expect this," she said.
"I feel good right now. I can maybe touch the sky with my finger."
Vinci joked she would have to hide her face the next time she saw Williams.
"Doesn`t matter if she lost to me today. For me, she`s the very best right now," Vinci said.
"She`s an incredible player. She won a lot of tournaments, Grand Slam. For me, yeah, she`s the number one."
But Vinci is the one playing Saturday. Her final match starts seven hours before her ticketed flight departs.
"Maybe I can (make it)," she said. "Maybe I can."