Williams rolled her ankle when serving for the match at 5-1, but denied that the injury had thrown her off her stride
Serena Williams blew a 5-1 final set lead against seventh seed Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open yesterday, squandering four match points as she was beaten 6-4 4-6 7-5.
Pliskova stunned a packed Rod Laver Arena with a fightback for the ages as she rallied from the brink of defeat to deny Williams the chance to keep alive her hopes of winning a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title.
Williams rolled her ankle when serving for the match at 5-1, but denied that the injury had thrown her off her stride.
“It was nothing to do with my ankle,” the 16th seed said.
“Obviously I made some mistakes but she played really well. She was hitting the lines and went crazy. She played unbelievable on match points.”
Next up for Pliskova is a semi-final meeting with Japan’s Naomi Osaka today, while her fellow Czech Petra Kvitova faces unseeded American Danielle Collins in the other semi-final.
Pliskova, Kvitova and Osaka are locked in a three-way battle to wrest the world No 1 spot from Simona Halep, and Pliskova will emerge as the top-ranked woman in the world if she wins her first career Grand Slam title in Melbourne.
Osaka said keeping her temper in check had helped her seal a comfortable 6-4 6-1 win over sixth seed Elina Svitolina to reach the Australian Open semi-finals.
“For me, today, I had one goal – it was to try as hard as I can and not get angry. I didn’t do that well in the past two rounds, but I played well today,” she said.
“I tried to be consistent, or as consistent as I can be. She is really good but unfortunately she was injured. But playing against her injured was really tough.”
Meanwhile, in the men’s draw, six-times champion Novak Djokovic reached the last four for the seventh time in his career after his quarter-final opponent, Japanese dynamo Kei Nishikori, retired with an injury while trailing 6-1 4-1.
Nishikori, who has spent close to 14 hours on court before the match, called for the trainer and received treatment for a right thigh problem after the first set before he was forced to retire.
Djokovic, who has gone on to win the title each time he has reached the semi-finals in the past, faces Frenchman Lucas Pouille on Friday.
Second seed Rafa Nadal and Greek youngster Stefanos Tsitsipas meet in the other men’s semi-final today.