Vinci pre­par­ing to re­tire be­fore home fans at Ital­ian Open

Ten­nis

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - SPORT -

For­mer U.S. Open fi­nal­ist Roberta Vinci will have no re­grets when she plays her fi­nal match at next week's Ital­ian Open.

The 35-year-old Vinci an­nounced in Novem­ber that she would con­clude her ca­reer be­fore home fans at the Foro Ital­ico.

"I'm proud of what I've ac­com­plished and of the ca­reer that I've had," Vinci said yes­ter­day. "If I had been told when I was a kid, ' You'll en­ter the top 10, be­come No. 1 in dou­bles and win all of the Grand Slams, plus four Fed Cups,' maybe I would have said there's some­thing wrong here. Ten­nis has given me ev­ery­thing and I think I've given some­thing to ten­nis."

Given a wild card with her rank­ing down to No. 168, Vinci will open the tour­na­ment against a qual­i­fier, then could face ei­ther 15th-seeded Anas­tasija Sev­as­tova or Kristina Mlade­n­ovic in the sec­ond round.

While she hinted that coach­ing could be in her fu­ture, Vinci hasn't de­cided on a post-play­ing ca­reer yet.

"First I'm fo­cus­ing on fin­ish­ing well and en­joy­ing my last days of train­ing," she said. "Hope­fully I can win a few matches and put that last match off a bit."

At the 2015 U.S. Open, Vinci up­set Ser­ena Wil­liams in the semi­fi­nals to pre­vent the Amer­i­can from com­plet­ing a cal­en­dar-year Grand Slam. Vinci lost the fi­nal to a fel­low Ital­ian, Flavia Pen­netta.

"Cer­tainly the vic­tory over Ser­ena at the U.S. Open is my ca­reer high­light," Vinci said. "That seems ob­vi­ous."

Vinci was also ranked No. 1 in dou­bles and com­pleted a ca­reer Grand Slam with part­ner Sara Er­rani.

Her style of play is a throw­back to an­other era, fea­tur­ing a one-handed back­hand, var­i­ous spins and op­por­tunis­tic for­ays to the net.

"It's be­com­ing tougher and tougher to do well with a style like mine," Vinci said. "There were times where I would have pre­ferred to play more of a phys­i­cal game with a twohanded back­hand, rely less on tac­tics and play more by in­stinct. Un­for­tu­nately I didn't have those qual­i­ties. The game has be­come more phys­i­cal and all about power — and less in­tel­li­gence, I think."

On Italy's Fed Cup team, Vinci teamed with Pen­netta, Francesca Schi­avone and Sara Er­rani — each of whom ei­ther won a Grand Slam or reached a Grand Slam fi­nal.

Pen­netta re­tired shortly after win­ning the U.S. Open while Schi­avone and Er­rani also have wild cards for the Ital­ian Open.

"It will be dif­fi­cult," Vinci said, "to recre­ate the suc­cess that we achieved."

Roberta Vinci

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