Serena Williams knocked out of Australian Open by Karolina Pliskova after leading 5-1 and holding four match points
Seventh seed, Karolina Pliskova, produced a fight back for the ages to claim a 6-4 4-6 7-5 quarter-final win over Serena Williams at the Australian Open on Wednesday.
This was after Williams squandered four match points and blew a 5-1 lead in the deciding set.
The American great, chasing a milestone 24th Grand Slam triumph, also saved two match points in the last game but netted on the third as the big-serving Czech shocked a packed Rod Laver Arena with her remarkable rally from the brink of defeat.
The American’s hopes of matching Margaret Court’s all-time record of Grand Slam singles titles, and claiming a first since becoming a mother in 2017, were lost once more, after she lost in finals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open last year.
While disappointed, the 37-year-old was philosophical in defeat, and pledged to regroup for another tilt at the French Open.
“It’s definitely not easy for me. From day one, I expect to go out and, quite frankly, to win.
“That hasn’t happened, but I do like my attitude… I’ve only been playing 10 months, but I expect to win, and if I don’t, it’s disappointing.
“I rather think of it that way and know that it’s going to happen sooner or later than making an excuse for myself. I don’t like making excuses,” the seven times champion in Melbourne, told reporters.
The brave Pliskova advanced to meet Naomi Osaka in the last four, denying Williams a chance to avenge her controversial U.S. Open final defeat to the Japanese fourth seed.
“Normally, I’m having a lot of comebacks, but maybe from a set down or a break down; so, nothing like this.
“I think it’s the best comeback ever so far in my life,” an elated Pliskova told reporters after qualifying for her first Melbourne semi-final.
“I know she’s the greatest ever, but I don’t want to put her somewhere where I would not have a chance to beat her.”
Pliskova avenged her quarter-final loss to Williams at last year’s U.S. Open and now holds an enviable 2-1 Grand Slam record against the American, having beaten her in the 2016 semi-finals at Flushing Meadows.
The 26-year-old former world number one, chasing her maiden Grand Slam title, is the second Czech into the semi-finals after double Wimbledon champion, Petra Kvitova, thrashed home favourite Ashleigh Barty on Tuesday to book a match with Danielle Collins.
Locked in a three-way battle with Osaka and Kvitova to take the world number one spot from Simona Halep, Pliskova will emerge as the top-ranked woman if she claims the title.
Williams, seeded 16th as she continues her return from maternity leave, rolled her ankle when serving for the match at 5-1. She promptly double-faulted after missing a passing shot on her first match point and was broken after dumping a backhand into the net.
Pliskova held on grimly, saving three more match points when serving to stay alive at 5-4, before breaking Williams to love and charging to 40-0 in the final game.
Williams saved two of the match points, the second with a courageous backhand winner, but Pliskova held firm to add another highlight to a tournament laden with upsets.
The American said her ankle was not a factor in defeat, and credited Pliskova for playing “unbelievably” on match points.
“She literally played her best tennis ever on those shots,” she said.
Has Something to Say about Serena Williams knocked out of Australian Open by Karolina Pliskova after leading 5-1 and holding four match points? Drop your comments below