After Slow Start, Serena Williams Powers Past No. 8 Karolina Pliskova to Make US Open Semifinal
(September 4, 2018) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY- Serena Williams bounced back from a slow start to defeat Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 6-3 to reach the US Open semifinal, her 36th major final four. She also exacted some revenge on the Czech player who defeated her two years ago at the US Open.
The world No. 8 Pliskova had the early lead in the first set breaking serve for a 2-1 lead. She almost had a second break that would have given her a 4-1 lead, but William fought off three break points.
“I had couple breakpoints. I think that was the biggest chance for the first set because double break, I would feel for sure less pressure after on my serves,” Pliskova said.
“She was actually not great in the beginning, but I was also not great. It was a lot of mistakes from both sides. I was just a little bit better than she was.
“Somehow I just couldn’t find my rhythm at all in the first set, and she found it in the end of the first set, so that was the difference.”
“I just thought that I wasn’t playing my best tennis,” admitted the 17th seed Williams. “I was thinking, you know, I can play better. So that was the good news. Then I thought just try to make less errors, because at that point I was missing a lot of shots. I just had to figure out a way to just try to at least make one, and one at a time.”
From a 4-2 lead for the Czech, the almost 37-year-old, 23-time major champion won the next 8 games in a row to take a 6-4, 4-0 lead. Pliskova got back to 4-2, with points to get back on serve, but Williams stopped the comeback and served out the match 6-4, 6-3.
“I felt like I played much better actually in the second set, but she was too strong on her serve obviously,” said the Czech. “I think almost my every breakpoint, putting all first serves there on big chances.
“I felt like she was just playing better in the important moments today. For sure I could do better today.”
“That’s a really big step for me,” Williams said in regard to playing and beating a Top 10 player, her first of the year. “Shocking, my first top-10 win. I really felt like I was playing well in Cincinnati, even though I lost. I was just on the verge. If I could have just had one more match before I played a top-10 player, I think I would have done better.
“I’m getting those matches now. Just was so light on the matches. So now I feel like I’m at a level where I can play and try to compete against these amazing women in the top 10.”
Williams will be aiming to get back to a US Open final when she plays Anastasjia Sevestova, who defeated defending champion Sloane Stephens.
Pliskova was asked if Williams is at the the same level she was when she last playerd her, since having a baby.
“She’s playing almost a year now, so I don’t feel any difference. She’s playing with the same power. She can still serve well. I don’t think there’s any change with her game. She’s just going for her shots.
“I just think I played much better two years ago. It was actually pretty same, the beginning of the match she was just giving mistakes. I was able to hold the serve much better this time than that time, those two years ago. But I think maybe she’s back on the level where she was.”
“I’ve seen her play a lot.” said Williams of her next opponent. “She’s been playing really well for actually a long time. So obviously I know her game really well. She clearly knows mine. So she’s definitely someone that gets a lot of balls back and something I have to be ready for.”