No.10 seed Karolina Pliskova pulled off the best win of her career by knocking out World No.1 Serena Williams to reach her first Grand Slam final.
WTA Staff

NEW YORK, NY, USA - No.10 seed Karolina Pliskova reached her first Grand Slam final in style, shocking top seed Serena Williams, 6-2, 7-6(5) in the semifinals of the US Open.

"It was always a dream to, you know, get a title, get to the semifinal, get to the final," Pliskova said in her post-match press conference. "So, I mean, it's a big result for me. I hope I didn't stop yet, that there is still one more step to go. I'll do anything for getting the title.

"Even if I don't get it, it's a big result. I'm really happy to be there and even have the chance to play in the final here. It doesn't happen often that you're playing a semifinal against Serena on center court here in New York. It doesn't happen often that you're in the final of Grand Slams."

Pliskova came into her first major semifinal having won her last 10 matches, dating back to a title run at the Western & Southern Open; the 2016 WTA ace leader was in ruthless form on serve against Serena, striking seven aces and winning 84% of first serve points.

"I was pretty calm today. Before the match I felt a little bit like pressure, nervous. But when I stepped on the court I didn't feel anything. I just wanted to win. Not just enjoy but to win.

"I knew I'm going to have my chances even if she's playing her best. There is always a chance in those two sets. I was calm during the whole match. Even in the second set there was some complications. I was up a break.

"But it never can be so easy to play No.1 in the world. You cannot win, 6-2, 6-1, so I wasn't expecting a match like this. I was prepared for anything, even if I would have lose the second set I would be ready for the third."

Serena, by contrast, had just won an epic match over No.5 seed Simona Halep less than 24 hours ago, and appeared to struggle with a left leg injury that was later confirmed by coach Patrick Mourataglou. Pushing Pliskova into a second set tie-break, the World No.1 threw in a sixth double fault to end the contest after just 85 minutes.

"I have been having some serious left knee problems," Serena said after the match. "I wasn't tired. Fatigue had absolutely nothing to do with it. If I was tired I should definitely get into a new career.

"I think she's been on tour for numerous years and she's had some good wins. She was doing so well last year, was so close in so many finals, and I think maybe this was her year to really do well, at least here at the Open."

Still, it was a banner day for the Czech powerhouse, who played flawless tennis throughout and showed off her improved mobility to hit 19 winners to just 25 unforced errors. Serena hit one more winner but six more errors and only managed to engineer one break point on the Pliskova serve. Pliskova became the eighth woman ever to defeat both Williams sisters in the same tournament, and the fourth to do it at a major tournament.

"There is not more than to beat both sisters in one tournament in New York," Pkiskova said. "I'm really excited about those two wins.

"For the crowd, it's not probably the best that I beat both of them in their country, but for me it's really something special. Obviously the match with Venus helped me, not only with the game, but also with the crowd, also. It was my first match on center court, so I knew I was to play center court one of the Williams sisters against all the people there. I was prepared for it. I was prepared for a fast game, for great serving, and probably it helped me.

"That's maybe why I won the match today."

Up next for the 24-year-old is either No.2 seed Angelique Kerber - the new World No.1 after Serena's loss - or former No.1 Caroline Wozniacki. Pliskova beat Kerber in the final of Cincinnati just two weeks ago, ironically preventing the German from hitting No.1 earlier.

"If I play Kerber tomorrow I'll know her very well. We played a lot of times. I lost to her; I won. So I will be ready for anything. That's a final of a Grand Slam, so anything is possible. Of course, probably nerves from both sides. We both have a good chance to win.

"But I will just do anything to win the title here."