Home Sports Serena Williams stunned in Australian Open by Karolina Pliskova

Serena Williams stunned in Australian Open by Karolina Pliskova

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Sandra Harwitt, Special to USA TODAY Sports
Published 11:38 p.m. ET Jan. 22, 2019 | Updated 12:01 a.m. ET Jan. 23, 2019

MELBOURNE — There will not be a repeat of last year’s headline-grabbing US Open final between Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka in this year’s Australian Open semifinals.

Williams was close to guaranteeing the hoped-for semifinal showdown on Wednesday, but wasn’t able to take advantage of four match points in the quarterfinals. She had one match point on her own serve in the seventh game and three on Karolina Pliskova’s serve in the 10th game of the final set.

The 16th-seeded Williams held a match point with a double-break lead at 5-1, 40-30 when she appeared to roll her left ankle. She then double-faulted and netted a backhand to lose her serve in that game.

Williams then had three match points on Pliskova’s serve in the 10th game, but errors allowed the Czech to even the score to 5-5 in the final set.

Pliskova went on to break Williams’ serve at love in the 11th game to set up serving for the match in the 12th game. Pliskova won the 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 match on a third-match point when Williams netted a forehand approach shot.

The fourth-seeded Osaka did her part to set up a savory semifinal with Williams by beating sixth-seeded Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-1 in an earlier Wednesday quarterfinal.

Osaka’s beaten Williams both times they’ve played at the Miami Open and to win her first Grand Slam title at the US Open. Both matches took place last year.

Since Williams returned to the tour in March 2018 – she was off the tour on maternity leave after winning her 23rd Grand Slam title at the 2017 Australian Open – she’s 2-7 in matches where she’s lost the first set.

Williams’ dream of tying Margaret Court’s record of winning 24 career Grand Slam singles titles will now not occur at this Australian Open.

Trouble started quickly for the 16th-seeded Williams when she surrendered her serve in the third game of the match. At 15-40, Williams made a backhand passing error with Pliskova up at the net.

Williams managed to salvage her serve in the fifth game when she fell behind 0-40. She eventually saved four break points in that game, but was still behind by a service break at 2-3.

Pliskova ended the first set in 40 minutes with her second ace of the match.

Williams nearly fell behind in the first game of the second set when she faced a break point at 30-40, but managed to hold onto her serve.

Williams surrendered her serve in the fifth game of the second set when she netted a backhand on a second break, but Pliskova provided the necessary breathing room for Williams when she dumped her own serve at love in the next game.

After squandering three game points in the 10th game, Pliskova netted a backhand on a first set point for Williams to initiate the deciding set.

Pliskova, who won the 2010 Australian Open girls’ title, is into her first Australian Open semifinal. Her previous best Grand Slam showing was reaching the 2016 US Open final.

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