With Angelique Kerber matching her step for step, making the semi-finals in the other half of the draw, Serena Williams must continue to win if she wishes to retain her World No.1 ranking. The live rankings currently have the German at No.1 but she will need to win the final to confirm her spot there. Serena plays Karolina Pliskova in the Czech’s first slam semi-final to begin Thursday’s night session.
After cruising through the first 4 rounds, Serena finally faced a test in the quarter finals. Simona Halep pushed her all the way with the American coming out on top 6-2 4-6 6-3. It was still a dominant serving performance with 18 aces from Serena but she will be disappointed in her inability to take break points in this match. She failed to convert all 12 in the second set which led to Halep taking the match 3.
Serena wasn’t too despondent though about her inability to win in straights. “I feel great. I’m glad I got tested. The best part of it is I feel like — I mean, I think her level really picked up in the second, but I had some opportunities that I didn’t take. So what I gather from that is I really could have played better in that second set and maybe had an opportunity to win in straights.” she said.
Pliskova’s game style is similar to that of many of the modern Czechs – big flat hitting and a solid serve to back it up with. Serena realises the threat posed by Pliskova’s in particular. “I haven’t played against many big servers recently, but she places her serve really well, I think. She definitely gets some speed on it, but her placement is really, really nice. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be able to read them and play okay.”
Pliskova’s serve was used to it’s fullest in her quarter final against Ana Konjuh. While there were very few aces, the Czech lost just 5 points on serve all game as she nullified the threat of the talented young Croatian.
Pliskova had long been seen as someone who underachieved comparative to her ranking and ability in her career so far. The 24 year old has a career high ranking of 6 and has won 5 tour titles yet this event is the first time she has made it past the third round in her career. It will be intriguing to see how Pliskova deals with the spotlight in prime time but it may be too early for her to pull of such a shock especially given Serena’s record when it comes to the business end of slams.
Prediction – Serena Williams in straight sets