By Michael Donovan
Serena Williams, the world No. 1, lost for the second straight year in the U. S. Open semifinals, just two matches from history.
“I don’t think much went well today,” a subdued Williams told reporters after a 6-2, 7-6(5) shocker at the hands of Karolina Pliskova, a first-time major semifinalist. “I made a lot of errors. I didn’t play as well as I’ve been playing.”
A bad left knee visibly hampered her late in the second set. Coach Patrick Mouratoglou said they had worked all day to get it ready. Williams said it was on her mind throughout the 85-minute defeat.
“I don’t remember having seen her move so slowly ever,” Mouratoglou said. “As soon as she started, it was terrible.”
While Pliskova, a 24-year-old from the Czech Republic, advances to her maiden major final, Williams is stopped short of winning a record 23rd Grand Slam.
She is halted there for now, tied with Steffi Graf for the record of Open era Slams at 22. She loses her world No. 1 ranking, as well, gone from the top for the first time in 186 weeks — another record she now must share with Graf.