NEW YORK, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Roberta Vinci beat her opponent and the rain to storm into the quarter-finals of the U.S. Open on Monday just before a thunderstorm forced play to be suspended.
Vinci needed just over an hour to defeat fellow Italian Camila Giorgi 6-4 6-2 and reach the last eight at Flushing Meadows for the second year in a row.
The match finished just minutes before the arrival of heavy showers that forced play to be halted on all the courts as players and spectators went running for covering.
When the rain came, Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova was closing in on her first quarter-final appearance at the U.S. Open in more than a decade, leading American wildcard Alison Riske 6-3 4-4 at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Romania's Simona Halep, one of the hottest players on tour with four WTA titles since June, was just one point away from levelling her match with Flavia Pennetta at Louis Armstrong Stadium.
Halep lost the opening set 6-2 and fell 4-2 behind in the second before reeling off three games in a row and reaching set point on her own serve.
Better known as a doubles player, Vinci made light work of her match with Giorgi, who had come through the qualifiers just to get into the main draw.
Giorgi upset former world number one Caroline Wozniacki to reach the fourth round but was outgunned by the more experienced Vinci, who is ranked number one in the world in doubles and is defending her U.S. Open doubles title she won last year with Sara Errani.
New York's fickle weather has been a major talking point at the U.S. Open for years with each of the last five men's finals spilling into a third week because of rain delays.
For years, U.S. Tennis Association officials balked at the idea of building a roof because of the enormous cost of covering Arthur Ashe Stadium, the largest tennis stadium in the world.
But they have finally relented, announcing two weeks ago that they would commence a massive renovation program, which would include a roof, by 2016 at the earliest. (Editing by Gene Cherry)