US Open: Serena reaches semi-finals, defending champion Stephens ousted

Serena Williams rolls into US Open semifinals
Serena Williams sees off Pliskova to make US Open semifinals

08 September, 2018

The 17th-seeded Williams fell behind 3-1 in the first set, and Pliskova had three break points for a 4-1 lead.

In the other games, defending champion Sloane Stephens of the United States of America was outclassed in her quarter-final clash by Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova 2-6, 3-6.

Then, after her third ace of the final game sailed past Pliskova and bounced toward the stands, Williams threw both arms into the air and spun an enthusiastic 360 nearly involuntarily, as if the movement were part of the follow-through on her serve.

Williams saved 10 of the 12 break points and struck 35 winners to Pliskova's 12 to record her first victory over a player in the world's top 10 since returning from maternity leave earlier this year.

Karolina Pliskova, the No. 8 seed, knocked off Williams in the 2016 semifinals before the 23-time Grand Slam champion missed last year's tournament, when she gave birth. "I'm just on my way on the tour and doing the best I can".

With one more victory, Williams will earn her seventh U.S. Open championship and her 24th major singles trophy, equaling Margaret Court for the most in tennis history. The 36-year-old American's most recent major title came at the 2017 Australian Open, while she was pregnant. "I really felt like I was playing well in Cincinnati, even though I lost".

That last comment brought laughter from the assembled reporters, given Sevastova's tendency to play drop shots and vary her angle of attack on a regular basis. Then, down 3-1, she faced three break points; if Pliskova won any, she would have led 4-1. For Williams her service game wasn't so easy with Pliskova getting into her element ready to brake Williams again.

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Gauff received a wild card this year into the qualifiers for the main draw at Flushing Meadows, but lost 6-4, 6-1 to Heather Watson of England.

Naomi Osaka of Japan made her first career Grand Slam final, beating 2017 U.S. Open runner-up Madison Keys 6-2, 6-4. However, the second set proved to be more of one sided affair for Williams taking the first game easily taking her tally to five games in a row which she had won.

Williams only really got going second set after coming through some tennis games in the first and showed her fighting spirit and willpower to wear Pliskova down like she has down to countless amounts of opponents before.

By failing to step up her game for the key points, Stephens allowed the match to get away from her quickly and despite a late fightback was in no shape to pull off a comeback.

"I hope I will enjoy it, playing semi-finals". A strong response from Williams as Pliskova continued to fight back made it 5-2 before putting the final touches on the win.

"It's tough to make points against her, but I had to be aggressive".

Gauff's father, Corey, played basketball at Georgia State and her mother, Candi, ran track at Florida State.

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