Wednesday, 19 June, 2019


McEnroe: Serena choked in Australian Open loss

Novak Djokovic playing against Kei Nishikori at the Australian Open on 23 January 2019 McEnroe: Serena choked in Australian Open loss
Noah Ferguson | 26 January, 2019, 19:07

Whether it would be from an ace off her lightning serve or a after a hard-fought rally, Serena Williams was a single point away from the Australian Open semifinals, one point away from a rematch with Naomi Osaka and almost a step closer to a 24th Grand Slam title.

Former world number one Karolina Pliskova overcame Serena Williams 6-4 4-6 7-5 to storm into the semi-finals where she takes on U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka. Karolina Pliskova, on the edge of the abyss (she was on the score of 1-5 in the third set) was able to eliminate Serena Williams after a thrilling last set.

Williams, a seven-time Australian champion, then failed to win a point on serve for the rest of the match. But Williams lost six successive games and went down 4-6, 6-4, 5-7 in two hours and 10 minutes.

"She literally played her best tennis ever on those shots", she said.

Pliskova's huge serve was not in full gear early on as she was pushed to deuce, but managed to hang on to keep pace with Williams. And together they've been responsible for the ousting of the likes of two-time Slam champion Garbine Muguruza, 2016 Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber, and 23-time major victor Serena Williams to get to this far in the tournament.

World No 1 Novak Djokovic reached the Australian Open semi-finals in a hurry as an ailing Kei Nishikori retired when losing 6-1, 4-1 after just 51 minutes. She was just putting pressure on me.

Locked in a three-way battle with Osaka and Kvitova to take the world number one spot from Simona Halep, Pliskova will emerge as the top-ranked woman if she claims the title.

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

1 went down 2-6 6-4 4-6 to reigning US Open champion Naomi Osaka of Japan on a scorching Thursday morning where the temperatures flirted around 42 degree celsius.

Williams praised her opponent, saying: 'There's nothing I did wrong on those match points. Petra Kvitova opens the program against Danielle Collins, Pliskova faces Osaka after that, while Tsitsipas and Nadal close the day.

Nishikori was trailing 6-1 and 4-1 before he succumbed to a right quad problem following his marathon exertions at the tournament.

"I don't think it had anything to do with my ankle per se", said Williams. I was too passive and mentally down but she got a little bit shaky.

Despite the Ukrainian suffering, it was nevertheless a serious statement from the steely-eyed Osaka, who was playing the sort of tennis which drove her to the US Open title. As it is, he declared that he'll return to the clay-court circuit this year and participate in the French Open for the first time since 2015.

The Japanese in an interview after the game said she has gained more experience and was up to the task against Pliskova.

In the first set alone, Williams made more than twice as many unforced errors as her opponent, 11-5, a pattern that would continue throughout.

Returning to action past year after giving birth to daughter Alexis Olympia in September 2017, Williams impressively made finals at Wimbledon and the US Open, falling to Angelique Kerber and Osaka, respectively.

"It was unfortunate for Serena and I think she was actually thinking of her foot".

It was the 21-year-old's second straight grand slam semi-final after her triumph at Flushing Meadows, and she is the first Japanese woman in the final four at Melbourne Park since Kimoko Date in 1994. "I just said, maybe this match is over, but let's just try to win this game".

"Australia has been really kind to me throughout my career".

'So I just kept going. I've never seen anything like it. 'There is more matches to win.

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