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US Open women’s semis: Serena and Halep favourites to reach final

Serena Williams is just two victories away from completing tennis’ calendar year Grand Slam and emulating Steffi Graf’s all-conquering 1988 season, and Coral make her a firm odds-on 1/5 favourite to do just that by winning the US Open.

Besting sister Venus in three sets at their home tennis major, the younger and more successful Williams sibling takes on maiden Flushing Meadows semi-finalist Roberta Vinci next on Thursday.

As her name suggests, Serena has made serene progress past the Italian in four previous head-to-heads, including two straightforward victories on hard courts. Williams is thus overwhelmingly odds-on at 1/20 to stop Vinci’s renaissance.

Once ranked top of the WTA doubles tour with compatriot Sara Errani, unseeded Vinci finally faces a top pro and current singles world number one Williams as a rank 9/1 outsider for an upset which there is simply no case for from a betting perspective. Her run to the final four has been more than a little fortunate.

US Open Tennis

Grand Slam business end debutante Vinci, 32, has amazingly avoided playing any seeds en route to the semis, as Eugenie Bouchard withdrew from the US Open thus handing the Italian a walkover in the last 16. First round exits for top 10 women Ana Ivanovic and Carla Suarez Navarro also helped to open her section of the draw up.

There are no certainties in professional sport, but victory for Serena is as close to that as you can get. Punters can enhance her odds-on price to 1/5 if you back Williams to win in straight sets.

Another veteran Italian in Flavia Pennetta will contest the other semi-final against second seed Simona Halep, and holds a Flushing Meadows victory over the Romanian racket star. A repeat result from 2013 here is a tempting 12/5 chance.

US Open - Women Fourth Round - NYC

Halep, 9/2 to win her first Grand Slam title at the US Open, has needed deciding sets to knock out both Sabine Lisicki and two-time Australia Open champ Victoria Azarenka, so does look a little short at 1/3 to beat Pennetta, who came from behind to beat double Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova.

Unlike compatriot Vinci, Pennetta has reached the latter stages of major tournaments before, and odds of 5/1 for the second set to go a tiebreak are well worth taking as previous head-to-heads have always proved close between her and Halep.

An attractive 11/4 price is available on Pennetta just coming up short and being beaten by Halep 2-1, yet the former replicating her straight sets victory from this event two years ago also appeals at 5/1.

Coral’s top tip: Italian duo Pennetta and Vinci have done remarkably well to reach this point, but it would be brave to bet against hugely consistent WTA tour pros Halep and Williams.