Serena Williams was supposed to romp to victories on Thursday and Saturday before celebrating a record 23rd Grand Slam title this weekend. Unfortunately, Karolina Pliskova was intent on ruining the script.
Pliskova, the 24-year-old Czech player, stormed into her maiden Grand Slam final by defeating the veteran American 6-2, 7-6 (5) in a match that lasted just under 85 minutes.
Williams wasn’t her usual self, allowing Pliskova to break her serve twice early in the match before dropping the first set in just 26 minutes.
The World No.1, who was also eyeing her first-ever calendar Grand Slam (all four majors in one season), a feat that Steffi Graf achieved in 1998, bounced back in the second set, breaking Pliskova’s serve in the sixth game before taking the set into a tie-breaker.
However, the younger and hungrier Czech, known for her booming serve, took a 3-0 lead in the tiebreaker before finishing off Williams in a match that lasted 85 minutes.
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Serena Williams injured?
During the second set, Williams was seen limping and holding her left knee during breaks. She had sustained a left knee injury during the quarterfinal win over Simona Halep, according to coach Patrick Mouratoglou.
Pliskova, after the biggest victory of her career, is still in awe. “I don’t believe it. Actually, I do believe it … Serena is a champion. It’s never easy to play her. I’m really happy that I stayed there to get the win.”
The 24-year-old jokingly said that America hates her since she ousted both the Williams sisters during the U.S. Open. “America probably hates me because I beat Venus and Serena,” she said after the win.
Williams admitted that she entered the match with a few distractions.
“My mind was just a little bit everywhere, but it was what it was. Yeah, serious left knee problems. But fatigue had nothing to do with it. If I was tired, I need to find a new career.
“I definitely was not beat up after my quarterfinal match.”
Serena Wiliams won her 22nd Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in July, typing Steffi Graf’s Open era tally. She also entered the U.S. Open on a streak of 186 consecutive weeks as World No.1, another record. However, it’s likely that she loses the No.1 ranking, though not yet confirmed by WTA.