Serena Williams v Karolina Pliskova: US Open quarter-final

Sloane Stephens

Pliskova got another chance when Williams batted a forehand into the net, but another booming serve, a backhand victor and an unreturnable serve saw her safely through the danger.

The home favourite claimed eight games in a row to recover from an early break of serve in the opening set and secure a 6-4, 6-3 victory over No 8 seed Karolina Pliskova. Williams was ranked 26th when she received her No. 17 seeding, one spot below older sister Venus. In other words: It's time to stop hedging predictions and start expecting Williams to win this tournament and tie Margaret Court's all-time record for major wins.

Her sluggish start against Pliskova came in the same 90-degree heat and 50-percent humidity that hampered John Isner in his quarterfinal loss to Juan Martin del Potro on Tuesday afternoon, and Roger Federer in his fourth-round exit against John Millman a night earlier and prompted the tournament to suspend play in junior matches for a few hours.

Good question. And now she could be set to match up against another American: Serena Williams in the semifinal. It's been a couple of rough ones for me, ' she said'. She handled it better. "I still know that no matter whether I'm in the semifinals or the finals, I have a really long way to go to win". It's a amusing phrase to say, but that's actually what happened - no one knew me the day before, and then the next day, it was like everyone knew me.

Williams already proved at Wimbledon that she is capable of the sort of dominant performances she has shown over the years, making all the way to the final at the All England Club before losing.

Things threatened to swing back Czech-ward as Serena served down 0-40 at 4-2, but saved four break points to restore order and maintain her advantage and serve the match on her 13th ace.

"Shocking, my first top-10 win", said Williams, who will face Anastasija Sevastova for the first time for a place in the final after the 19th seeded Latvian knocked out defending champion Sloane Stephens, the world number three.




Her last-16 match against Kanepi was the only time any of Williams' matches thus far have gone beyond two sets.

Indeed Stephens fought back to narrow the gap to 4-3, but Sevastova grabbed another break with a well-timed drop shot for a 5-3 lead and sealed the victory on her third match point when a tired Sephens put a backhand into the net.

After taking a 4-1 lead in the second set, Sevastova admitted that memories of last year's quarter-final against Stephens flashed across her mind.

Serving for the match at 5-3 Williams didn't allow any room for doubt, holding at love with two aces and an overhead smash followed by one last ace. "Even when I did have my break opportunities, I just wasn't playing the points well at all", Stephens, who beat Sevastova during a U.S. Open tune-up in Montreal last month, told reporters.

"I just thought that I wasn't playing my best tennis".

"Just stay hydrated throughout", Williams says.

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