Tennis  

Pliskova stuns Serena as Nadal overcomes Nishikori

Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova reacts after a point against Serena Williams of the US during their women’s singles quarter-final match on day ten of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 23, 2019. William WEST / AFP


Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic achieved the most stunning upset at the on-going Australian Open when she beat Serena Williams 6/4; 4/6; 7/5 in two hours and 10 minutes. The top seeded Novak Djokovic advanced to the semifinals of the men’s singles when Japan’s Kei Nishikori retired 1/6; 1/4.

Pliskova took the first set 6/4 and Serena won the second by the same score. In the third set, Serena held serve in the opening game, her opponent leveled, but Serena held serve to lead 2-1.

Serving at 30-40 the fourth game, Pliskova delivered a serve that pulled Serena wide to the right but the American star sent back a return winner at full stretch to earn the break to lead 3-1. Serena delivered three consecutive aces to extend the lead to 4-1. Another break of Pliskova’s serve gave Serena a 5-1 lead.Serving for the match, Serena reached 40-30 match point. An ace would have ended the match but her serve was returned.

In the ensuing rally, Serena rolled over her left ankle and lost the point. She hit a double fault at deuce and conceded the break. That was the fateful turning point. The Czech lady held to reduce the tally to 3-5, while Serena lost four consecutive service points to lose her serve and the ninth game.

Serving to stay in the match, Pliskova fell back 0-40 but she save the three match points and held serve to level five games apiece. Again, Serena did not win a point on her serve in the 11th game.

Serving for the match, Pliskova won three points in arrow to reach 40-0. Serena saved two match points but lost a rally to end the game and match. In all, she made 37 unforced errors to Pliskova’s 12.

It was their fourth career meeting. Serena won their first encounter in the second round of 2014 WTA Stanford tournament, 7/5; 6/2. Pliskova defeated Serena in the semifinals of the 2016 US Open, 6/2; 7/6(5), but Serena defeated her 6/4; 6/3 in the quarterfinals of the same event in 2018.

Later, Lucas Pouille of France defeated Canada’s Milos Raonic 7/6(4); 6/3; 6/7(7); 6/4 in a service duel that lasted just over three hours. In the women’s event, Japan’s Naomi Osaka defeated Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, 6/4; 6/1 in 71 minutes.

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