Friday, September 9, 2016

Serena stunned again in U.S. Open semis

Karolina Pliskova, shown in last year's Bank of the West Classic at Stanford,
shocked Serena Williams on Thursday in the semifinals of the U.S. Open.
Photo by Mal Taam
   Last year, it was nerves.
   This year, it was a knee injury.
   Serena Williams was stunned in the U.S. Open semifinals for the second straight year, falling lethargically to 10th-seeded Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 7-6 (5) on Thursday in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   The 34-year-old Williams double-faulted six times, including on match point, and committed 31 unforced errors.
   Her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, told reporters: "She didn't show up. She didn't play. She was so slow. She couldn't move."
  Williams had a similar problem last year in the U.S. Open semis but for a different reason. Two match wins away from the first calendar-year Grand Slam since Steffi Graf's in 1988, Williams lost to 43rd-ranked Roberta Vinci of Italy in one of the biggest upsets in sports history.
   Williams also was trying to tie Graf for second place with 22 career Grand Slam singles titles, two behind Margaret Court. Williams, a three-time champion of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, finally accomplished the feat at Wimbledon this year on her fourth attempt.
   Not only was Williams denied No. 23 on Thursday, she remained tied with Chris Evert for the Open-era record of six U.S. Open titles, and Williams' 3 1/2-year reign at No. 1 in the world rankings will end on Monday.
   Angelique Kerber will rise one spot to No. 1, ending Williams' monopoly after 186 weeks, which equals Graf's record.
   Kerber dispatched unseeded Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 6-3 to reach her third Grand Slam final of the year and of her career. The 28-year-old German left-hander stunned Williams in the Australian Open and lost to her at Wimbledon.
   The final will be a rematch of last year's Bank of the West final, won by Kerber 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.
   Kerber is 4-3 overall against the 6-foot-1 (1.86-meter) Pliskova, who leads the WTA tour in aces this year. But Pliskova won the last meeting 6-3, 6-1 in the Cincinnati final on Aug. 21.
   Pliskova had never advanced past the third round in 17 previous appearances in majors. Including Cincinnati, she has won 11 straight matches.
   Pliskova, 24, became only the fourth player to beat both Williams sisters in the same Slam. She survived a match point in her fourth-round victory over Venus.
   In the first round of the men's collegiate invitational, No. 3 seed Tom Fawcett of Stanford beat Konrad Zieba of Northwestern 3-6, 6-3, 6-0. The 6-foot-5 (1.96-meter) Fawcett will meet No. 1 Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, who has helped Virginia win the last two NCAA titles, today in the quarterfinals of the eight-player tournament.

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