Wil­liams ousted by pow­er­ful Pliskova

Baltimore Sun - - COMMENTARY - By Howard Fendrich

NEW YORK — For the sec­ond year in a row, Ser­ena Wil­liams’ bid to make his­tory ended with a shock­ing loss in the U.S. Open semi­fi­nals.

A sev­enth ti­tle at Flush­ing Mead­ows, which would have been an Open-era record, will have to wait. So will a 23rd Grand Slam cham­pi­onship, an­other record. And her 31⁄ year reign at No. 1 in the WTA rank­ings is over, too, one week short of what would have been yet an­other mark.

Un­done by a half-dozen dou­ble faults, in­clud­ing on match point, and plenty of other mis­takes she at­trib­uted in part to deal­ing with an in­jured left knee, Wil­liams was up­set, 6-2, 7-6 (5), by big-serv­ing Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Repub­lic on Thurs­day night.

“Karolina played great to­day. I think if she had played any less, then maybe I would have had a chance,” Wil­liams said. “So I think I wasn’t at 100 per­cent, but I also think she played well. She de­served to win to­day.”

The 10th-seeded Pliskova, who will play No. 2 An­gelique Ker­ber of Ger­many for the ti­tle Satur­day, be­gan her on-court in­ter­view by blurt­ing out that she couldn’t be­lieve she’d elim­i­nated Wil­liams to earn a spot in her first ma­jor fi­nal. Then Pliskova changed course, say­ing: “I mean, ac­tu­ally, I do be­lieve it. I al­ways knew I have a chance to beat any­one if I’m play­ing my game.”

At the 2015 U.S. Open, Wil­liams’ bid for a cal­en­dar-year Grand Slam ended when she lost in the semi­fi­nals to un­seeded Roberta Vinci of Italy in one of the big­gest sur­prises in ten­nis his­tory. This one goes pretty high on the list, too.

This was the 33rd ma­jor semi­fi­nal of Wil­liams’ ca­reer, and the first for Pliskova, who beat the 34-year-old Amer­i­can’s older sis­ter, Venus, in the fourth round af­ter staving off a match point. Pliskova is only the fourth woman to beat both Wil­liams sib­lings dur­ing the same Slam.

Pliskova, 24, had never been past the third round in 17 pre­vi­ous ap­pear­ances at ma­jors.

DON EM­MERT/GETTY-AFP

Karolina Pliskova be­came the fourth player to de­feat Ser­ena and Venus Wil­liams in the same Grand Slam.

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