Australian Open: Serena match left me drained, says Pliskova

Australian Open: Serena Williams and Milos Raonic crash out, Novak Djokovic advances

Serena Williams blew a 5-1 final set lead against seventh seed Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open on Wednesday, squandering four match points as she was beaten 6-4 4-6 7-5. When the score was 5:1 Serena Williams had her first match ball against the previous number one.

Pliskova was a point away from losing that match, until Williams, who was firmly in control, rolled her left-ankle mid-rally on match point. But Williams lost six successive games and went down 4-6, 6-4, 5-7 in two hours and 10 minutes.

On her part, Pliskova who ousted Serena Williams in the quarter-final said she was satisfied with the game she played and congratulated Osaka for her performance. She simply praised her opponent and suggested that Pliskova played the best tennis of her life.

Williams did not call for the trainer after rolling her ankle while serving for the match and despite it being a turning point, she insisted after that it was not the reason for her loss.

Williams will thus have to wait for a record-tying 24th grand slam title and rematch with Osaka, who earlier swept past WTA Finals champion Elina Svitolina 6-4 6-1 in much more straightforward fashion.

Novak Djokovic playing against Kei Nishikori at the Australian Open on 23 January 2019. "I'd rather think of it that way and know that it's going to happen sooner or later than making an excuse for myself", she said. And with each setback she takes, the likelihood increases that landing another big one might be tantalisingly beyond her grasp.

"You don't really feel", Pliskova said, "like you're going to win this match".

The momentum built up by Williams carried over into the third set with the American making sure she got off to a quicker start this time than in the first two sets, breaking in the fourth game on a attractive forehand victor to go up 3-1.

The former world number one didn't protest and served her second serve, only to twist her left ankle and dump a forehand into the net. "She played lights out on match point, literally, hitting lines". The crowd starts to cheer, it's 4-6, 6-4, 5-1, 40-30.

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"I don't think it had anything to do with my ankle per se", said Williams.

The 26-year-old nearly conjured another great escape less than 24 hours later after going down a set and a break in her final four clash with Japanese fourth seed Osaka. If by any chance, Osaka finishes the Australian Open with a better result than Petra Kvitova, the young Japanese will become the world No.1 starting this Monday.

"I like to just tough it out", said Williams.

"I think anything is possible". Since then? She won the tournament in 2015, lost in the final in 2016, and won again in 2017 while pregnant, before missing last year's edition a few months after the birth of her daughter.

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.

The 21-year-old from Japan moved closer to a second consecutive major championship by parlaying her aggressive and powerful style into a 31-11 edge in winners against Svitolina.

"But, yeah, for me right now I just try to keep looking forward. I think she really gave it her all at that point". "Like, I am happy that I'm here, but at the same time, I want to keep going", said Osaka, who never had been past the fourth round at the Australian Open. It's little things like that that I used to do, always do, that I need matches to know, okay, this is when you go psycho'.

If there was award for most supportive spouse of a sports star, Karolina Pliskova's husband would win.

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