Serena knocked out of Australian Open

Serena Williams denied choking after falling victim to one of the greatest ever comebacks Wednesday, saying she was powerless as Czech foe Karolina Pliskova "just went crazy" and stormed into the Australian Open semi-finals.

Pliskova's huge serve was not in full gear early on as she was pushed to deuce, but managed to hang on to keep pace with Williams.

Then came a gripping finale which left Williams - and those watching on Laver - stunned.

Serena Williams had 5-1 and 40-15 in the decisive set of her encounter against Karolina Plisova.

Williams aces to make it 30/30. [She] just went insane on match point....

Nishikori now has the daunting task of facing No. 1 seed Djokovic, a six-time champion in Australia. Williams is one point away from the semis.

But against Pliskova she lacked the intensity she had previously displayed and was soon trailing for the first time during her campaign after a slew of uncharacteristic errors.

Serena Williams didn't win another point on her serve after the foot fault and ankle injury.

The American great had beaten world No. 1 Simona Halep in the fourth round but folded against the tall Czech seventh seed, who saved four match points before winning 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 under the hot Melbourne sun.

"There's nothing I did wrong on those match points". Pliskova, by comparison, had already played and won the Brisbane International this season before getting four more matches under her belt prior to Wednesday's shock.

While admitting that the defeat was a tough one for her, Serena said that she is still going to move ahead with a positive attitude. But Pliskova made it impossible for the American to do that.

She was pleased to maintain her composure in a simple straight sets win after previously losing her cool on court when her last two matches went to three sets.

"I beat her before. She was No.1 at that time", she said. I'm the only tennis player playing with a metal hip. Only twice before in 380 Grand Slam matches had Williams lost after holding a match point, at the 2010 French Open and 1999 Australian Open. Williams won their other two meetings.

They just provided us with another reminder this week when they faced off in the quarter-finals. We saw several break-points in the first set, but the US Open champion came out as a victor from that chaotic part of the match.

"She's incredible. She's an fantastic human being". She hit an ace on match point. I don't think it had anything to do with my ankle, per se. I stayed aggressive. She just literally hit the lines on some of them.

"I think the conditions with the roof closed were flawless for her". Obviously she played well in NY.

"It's definitely not easy for me". I know the pressure when I'm playing home, as well.

That kind of self-belief is a trait she shares with Federer, another reason not to dismiss their chances to contend on tennis's most important stages. It was really incredible what she been through whole tournament.

"He's always going to say stuff", Federer said, before dismissing McEnroe's contention this way: "I've heard that story the last 10 years. But that's the tennis, unfortunately".

The semifinal in the bottom half of the draw is set, with Kvitova set to face surprise semifinalist No.35 Danielle Collins for a spot in Saturday's final.

"My cousin is here, very close with her".

Fans claim she was robbed by the umpire. She flew all the way from Minnesota today. If by any chance, Osaka finishes the Australian Open with a better result than Petra Kvitova, the young Japanese will become the world No.1 starting this Monday.

Nishikori had endured three five-set epics during a marathon 13hours 47minutes on court before the quarter-final clash and suffered a thigh injury in the first set. It was the first set Serena has dropped in this tourney.

Pouille recently recruited 2006 Australian Open champion Amelie Mauresmo to his team after a splitting with long-time coach Emmanuel Planque in the off-season.

The rest of the set against Karolina Pliskova was surreal.

Osaka will carry a 12-match Grand Slam winning streak into the semifinals.

80 - per cent, Nadal's success rate on his first serve points so far this tournament.

  • Julie Sanders