Serena Williams after Australian Open exit: Pliskova just went crazy

Updated: Jan 24, 2019, 11:43 IST | AFP

Stunned Serena says she was helpless against in-form Karolina during 4-6, 6-4, 5-7 defeat

Serena Williams after Australian Open exit: Pliskova just went crazy
Serena Williams (left) rues losing a point to Karolina Pliskova (right) during their Australian Open quarter-final in Melbourne yesterday. Pic/AP,PTI

Serena Williams denied choking after falling victim to one of the greatest ever comebacks yesterday, saying she was powerless as Czech foe Karolina Pliskova just went crazy and stormed into the Australian Open semi-finals.

Serena had Pliskova on the rack serving at 5-1 in the third set but the seventh seed fended off four match points to bounce back 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 and end the American's latest bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam. "She just played lights out on match point, literally hitting lines," Serena said. "[Pliskova] just went for it, just went crazy on match point. She just played unbelievable."

Did not choke: Serena
Serena said there was nothing she could do against an opponent in such form. "I can't say that I choked on those match points, said Serena. "She literally played her best tennis ever on those shots."

The American, 37, made a slow start and conceded the first set, but had recovered and looked set for a hard-fought win before a desperate Pliskova went on the six-game rampage.

"She was killing me... I was almost in the locker room, now I'm standing here as the winner. It's a great feeling," an exhausted Pliskova said after the two hour 10 minute epic. "My mind was in the locker room. I wasn't playing well in the third set, but I thought let's try, this game [will make it] 5-2. She got a little bit shaky in the end so I took my chances and I won."

Pliskova was on the brink until Williams double faulted with the end in sight after appearing to roll her ankle. Williams, a seven-time Australian champion, then failed to win a point on serve for the rest of the match. She refused to blame the injury for the loss, saying her ankle seems to be fine. The elated Czech rated it the best comeback of her life. "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," she said in explaining how she approached the match.

Osaka advances
Meanwhile, Japanese fourth seed Naomi Osaka routed an injured Elina Svitolina to reach the semi-finals yesterday. The US Open champion beat the Ukrainian sixth seed 6-4, 6-1 to set up a final four clash with Czech seventh seed Pliskova.

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