No spam ever. Unsubscribe in one click. By submitting your email address, you indicate your consent to receiving email marketing messages from us.

Pliskova saves four match points to beat Serena; sets up Australian Open semi-final showdown with Osaka

Andrew Hendrie in WTA Tour 23 Jan 2019
  • Pliskova stuns Serena to win Australian Open quarter-final duel
  • Czech saves four match points and comes back from 1-5 down in the third to prevail in dramatic fashion
Karolina Pliskova (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)

Karolina Pliskova produced arguably the most stunning win of her career on Wednesday, saving four match points to defeat seven-time Australian Open champion Serena Williams to advance into the semi-finals.

In one of the most dramatic matches of the tournament, Serena was seemingly in complete control as she raced out to a 5-1 lead in the deciding set. However, an extraordinary sequence of events would follow over the next 20 minutes that ultimately ended with Pliskova emerging triumphant in one of the biggest victories of her career.

It all began with a stunning foot fault call on Serena’s first match point - the American would have believed the match was over at the point of impact as she fired down an ace, but the lines person made the call and subsequently she was dragged into a long baseline exchange, that finished with Pliskova wrong-footing Serena and the 23-time major champion seemingly jamming her left ankle.

Karolina Pliskova and Serena Williams shake hands (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)
Serena never recovered and her movement and landing technique was visibly hindered (she lost all 10 points on her serve after rolling it), with Pliskova seizing the momentum and riding it all the way to victory, saving three more match points and winning the next six games to close out a 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 triumph in two hours and 10 minutes.

To her credit, Serena - who will now continue to try and equal Margaret Court’s major singles title record of No. 24 at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open later in 2019 - refused to blame her ankle or the foot fault call for the loss, praising Pliskova’s fearless aggression on the match points.

“I literally did everything I could on those match points. I can’t say that I choked on those match points. She literally played her best tennis ever on those shots,” Serena said.
“My ankle seems to be fine. I don’t usually know until the next day. I think she just played unbelievably on match points. I didn’t call the trainer out because I didn’t feel I needed it.”

Pliskova, meanwhile, couldn’t quite believe she was victorious and was lost for words during her post-match interview with Sam Smith.
Karolina Pliskova (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
"On the one hand I was (almost) in the locker room, now I'm standing here. It's a good feeling."
"My mind was in the locker room ... She was really playing well."

In a rematch of the U.S. Open quarter-finals last summer, Pliskova raced out of the blocks and took advantage of a flat Serena to propel herself to an early break lead. The Czech carved out four chances for a 4-1 double break lead, but Serena managed to keep the scoreline close as she started to find her range from the ground and on serve. But Pliskova held firm, finding great depth with her menacing groundstrokes as she served out the opening set with an ace out wide.

Pliskova would go on to secure the first break of the second at 3-2, but showcasing all of her fighting qualities, Serena immediately claimed the break-back with some jaw-dropping returns. The break-back seemed to galvanise the 37-year-old, with Serena holding the remainder of her service games comfortably before pulling off some more outstanding return winners off her forehand side to break Pliskova once more and force a decider.

Recovering from a 0-30 deficit to begin the third, Serena sprinted towards the finish line with her explosive brand of power tennis, hitting a large chunk of her 54 winners for the match during this period. But that was when disaster struck for the American - the foot fault on match point was called, she rolled her ankle and that was ultimately her undoing as Pliskova stepped up to the plate and took full advantage, storming through the next five games, and although Serena saved two match points in a last-ditch effort to survive, the Czech was not to be denied a place in her first Australian Open semi-final.

Pliskova goes on to face U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka for a spot in the final, after the fourth seed defeated WTA Finals winner Elina Svitolina in straight sets earlier on Wednesday.

Naomi Osaka (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Determined to overturn a two-match losing run against the Ukrainian, Osaka was dominant throughout the one hour and 10 minute contest, firing down eight aces and blasting 31 winners in the 6-4 6-1 victory, which doubled as her 12th straight win at a Grand Slam.

“It feels really good [to be in another Grand Slam semifinal],” Osaka told reporters after the match. “This is something that I have been working on a lot, which is, like, trying to get deeper in tournaments more consistently. I think I have been able to do that.
“For me right now I just try to keep looking forward. So I'm not really satisfied. I am happy that I'm here, but at the same time, I want to keep going. There is more matches to win.”

Osaka is aiming to become just the 10th player in history to secure the U.S. Open and Australian Open double and the first player since Serena in 2015. The 21-year-old is the first Japanese player to make the semi-finals of the Australian Open since Kimiko Date in 1994.

Osaka is also in pole position to claim the No. 1 ranking after Petra Kvitova’s win over Ashleigh Barty in Tuesday’s quarter-final. Although who seizes the No. 1 ranking is still very much up in the air, Osaka has surged into the top spot in the live rankings and will guarantee herself the No. 1 place if she wins the title.


Share this with your friends

To:
From:
Your comments:

Pliskova saves four match points to beat Serena; sets up Australian Open semi-final showdown with Osaka

Karolina Pliskova produced arguably the most stunning win of her career on Wednesday, saving four match points to defeat seven-time Australian Open champion Serena Williams to advance into the semi-finals.

Read more »

You have unread messages

You have unread messages