Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Pliskova stuns Serena with amazing comeback

Karolina Pliskova, shown in 2015, overcame a 5-1 deficit
in the third set to shock Serena Williams in the Australian
Open quarterfinals. Photo by Mal Taam
   Karolina Pliskova said her "mind was in the locker room."
   With good reason.
   Pliskova, the runner-up in the 2015 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, was playing Serena Williams, a part-time Silicon Valley resident and three-time winner of the now-defunct Bank of the West Classic, today in the Australian Open quarterfinals in Melbourne.
   Williams had a match point serving at 5-1 in the third set when Pliskova wrong-footed her. Williams, seeded 16th, rolled her left ankle and lost the point. She did not call for a trainer but never won another game as Pliskova, seeded seventh, saved three more match points in a stunning 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 victory in Melbourne.
   Pliskova prevented a rematch of last year's controversial U.S. Open final, which 20-year-old Naomi Osaka won for her first Grand Slam title. In today's preceding match at Rod Laver Arena, Osaka beat sixth-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine 6-4, 6-1.
   Williams, 37, was trying to win her record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title and first since the 2017 Australian Open. She has reached two major finals since delivering her first child on Sept. 1, 2017.
   In the men's quarterfinals, 28th-seeded Lucas Pouille of France took out 16th-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-4 to reach his first Grand Slam semifinal. Also, top-ranked Novak Djokovic beat eighth-seeded Kei Nishikori 6-1, 4-1, retired (quadriceps). Nishikori was coming off a 5-hour, 5-minute victory over Pablo Carreno Busta.
   Raonic never lost a set in the SAP Open in San Jose, winning the last three titles (2011-13) before the tournament was discontinued. Djokovic hopes to win his seventh Australian Open singles title and first since 2016.
   Meanwhile, a U.S. men's team reached the doubles semifinals, but it wasn't fourth-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan. Unseeded Ryan Harrison and Sam Querrey, a 31-year-old San Francisco native, topped seventh-seeded Lukasz Kubot of Poland and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.
   The 40-year-old Bryans (Stanford, 1997-98), playing in their first tournament together since last May, lost to Frenchmen Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut 6-4, 7-6 (3). Bob Bryan underwent hip surgery in August.
   The Bryans were seeking their seventh Australian Open men's doubles crown but first since 2013.

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