Melbourne - Serena
Williams' bid to equal Margaret Court's record 24 Grand Slam titles
was brought to a halt in sensational style on Wednesday by Karolina
Pliskova, who will face Naomi Osaka in the Australian Open semi-finals.
The American great had beaten world number one Simona Halep in the
fourth round but folded against the big-serving Czech seventh seed, who
saved four match points before winning 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 under the hot
It was a gut-wrenching defeat for the 37-year-old, who battled back
from a set down and was leading 5-1 in the third and serving for the
match, only to throw it away with some wild shots as frustrations
bubbled to the surface.
"There's nothing I did wrong on those match points. I stayed
aggressive. She just literally hit the lines on some of them," said a
Since returning last year from giving birth, Williams has made four
unsuccessful attempts to match Court's record, and the wait continues
with the French Open in May her next chance.
"The big picture for me is always winning," she added. "I'm not going
to sit here and lie about that. But it hasn't happened yet, but I feel
like it's going to happen."
For Pliskova, it is only her third semi-final at a major.
She made the last four at Roland Garros in 2017 and the US Open a
year earlier, where she beat Williams before losing the final to
"I was almost in the locker-room but now I am standing here as a
winner. It is a very good feeling," she said after depriving Williams of
a US Open final rematch with Osaka.
"She did get a little bit shaky in the end, I took my chances and I won."
Asked about facing Osaka next, Pliskova replied: "She's dangerous but nobody is more dangerous than Serena."
A focused Osaka brutally swept past Ukraine's Svitolina, who was
troubled by neck and shoulder problems, in her attempt to win
back-to-back Grand Slams.
The Ukrainian needed a similar medical timeout during her third round
match, but it was nevertheless a serious statement from the steely-eyed
Osaka, who was playing the sort of tennis which drove her to the US
"I tried to be consistent, it's unfortunate that she got injured but
playing against her even when she was injured was still really tough,"
said the usually bubbly 21-year-old, who was completely focused on
"I just had one goal, to try as hard I can and not get angry. I
didn't do that really well in the last two rounds and I did that today
so I'm really happy with the way I played."
The win ensured she became the first Japanese woman in the final four at Melbourne Park since Kimiko Date in 1994.
Svitolina, who has failed to go further than the quarter-finals now
four times at Grand Slams, said she had been feeling her injury
throughout the tournament, but didn't want to use it as an excuse.
"Unfortunately I couldn't produce 100 percent the game that I wanted.
But in the end, she was just playing better today," she said.
Unseeded American Danielle Collins and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova play the other semi-final.
Novak Djokovic resumes his quest for a record seventh Australian Open title later against Japanese marathon man Kei Nishikori.
The Serbian world number one admitted he "didn't feel so great" after
surviving a stiff four-set test in the last 16, and knows he has his
work cut out against the Japanese star who has battled through three
hard five-setters so far.
The winner will play big-serving Canadian 16th seed Milos Raonic or
France's 28th seed Lucas Pouille, who is now coached by former
Australian Open champion Amelie Mauresmo.
Stefanos Tsitsipas and Rafael Nadal have already secured their berths in the last four.