-- Then-ranked No. 42, Roberta Vinci stunned the world when she upset Serena Williams in the semifinals of the 2015 US Open and ended Williams' quest for the elusive calendar Grand Slam. Vinci lost to fellow Italian Flavia Pennetta in the final, but she proved herself to be a top singles player during her time in Flushing Meadows.
Now the No. 7 seed, the 33-year-old enters the 2016 tournament with her eyes set on winning her first Grand Slam singles title (she has five doubles titles) and showing her magical 2015 run was no fluke. She opens play against Anna-Lena Friedsam and wouldn't see Serena before the final.
We caught up with Vinci this week at the Connecticut Open in her final tune-up before the Open.
espnW: You had such an amazing run last year at the US Open. How does that change how you go into the tournament this year?
Roberta Vinci: Well, I had a great year last year, I had great results last year at the US Open, I beat Serena [Williams], I have a lot of great memories. But it's tough to repeat the same results, but of course I will try my best, and I won't think about my final last year. I know I have a lot of points to defend for my ranking, but I don't want to think about this. I just want to play my game, and go match by match and in the end see where I am.
espnW: What did beating Serena do for your confidence last year?
Vinci: A lot! When I beat Serena, and got to my first Grand Slam final, it gave me a lot of confidence for the rest of the season, and also this year. I never changed anything in my game, but I just played with a lot of confidence in myself after that.
espnW: A number of people called your win over Serena one of the biggest upsets of all time, what did that win feel like for you standing there after the match?
Vinci: It's not easy to beat Serena! It was the best match and the best day of my life. Of course, I didn't expect that win. Serena was, and is, No. 1 in the world but sometimes these things can happen -- something special can happen.
espnW: What's your favorite part of the US Open?
Vinci: The crowd. The atmosphere on center court is incredible. For me, the crowd is just fantastic.
espnW: Is there anything you just have to do while in New York?
Vinci: When I'm in New York, I love to go to this small shop. It has Italian coffee. It's close to my hotel and I like to go for breakfast. I go every day. It's just part of my routine now when playing at the US Open.