Serena Williams hope of reaching the Australian Open finally came to end as she was stunned by her Czech opponent, Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 in the quarter-final.
The game was already heading in favour of Serena who had been impressive in the competition, but her ankle let her down as she threw away her lead to Plistova who have now booked her place in the semis.
The Czech trailed Williams 5-1 in the third set and saved four match points with brave play to eventually triumph 6-4 4-6 7-5.
Pliskova had let slip a set and a break lead and looked both mentally and physically beaten as the 23-time major champion charged towards the finish line in the final set.
In her last meeting with Williams, in the 2018 US Open quarters, Pliskova lead 4-2 before losing eighth consecutive games on her way to a straight-sets loss. At the same stage of the Australian Open 12 months ago, Pliskova led Simona Halep 3-0 before losing 10 of the next 11 games to crash out.
Serena in a post-match interview did confirm her ankle caused her the semi-final spot but also hail her opponent.
She said “My ankle seems to be fine. I really hate calling the trainer out, to be honest. And at that point, I didn’t feel like I needed it or I didn’t feel like it would be a big deal. So I just kept going,” Williams said.
“Karolina literally played lights out starting 5-1, 40-30. Literally, I’ve never seen anything like it.
” There’s nothing I did wrong on those match points. I stayed aggressive. She just literally hit the lines on. Some of them. Once she hit an ace, unreturnable serve.
“I can’t say that I choked on those match points. She literally played her best tennis ever on those shots.”