Serena Williams hopes to move one step closer to that elusive 24th grand slam title on Tuesday night, taking on Karolina Pliskova for a spot in the semi finals. It was the Czech that ended her run last time in New York, beating Serena on her way to the final in 2016. “It’s going to be difficult, doesn’t matter who wins. Obviously I want Serena to win.” Pliskova had said prior to Serena’s last match, clearly unfazed by the prospect of another match with the 6 time champion.
Serena had her first test in the fourth round, needing three sets to defeat Kaia Kanepi. After winning the first set to 0, it felt like it would be another straight forward victory for the 17th seed. However, the Estonian upped her game and held her nerve to force a third set but she would not be able to fight back after giving up an early break. “I made one or two crucial errors and that cost me the second set, or at least cost me the first game… It wasn’t like my level went down tremendously. It was one or two points that made a huge difference in that second set.” Serena said, clearly not too down about losing her first set of the tournament.
Pliskova, in at least the quarter finals for a third straight year in New York, has often struggled for consistency but has been in decent form so far this fortnight. There were many predicting her exit in round four against Ashleigh Barty but she would win in straights after breaking early in both sets of the 6-4 6-4 win. It was her calmness under pressure that impressed too as she saved all 8 break points faced across the two sets. “That was my plan, to stay in the rallies, hold her on backhand, and if I have a chance to attack and hold my serve, that’s what I did perfectly today.” she said. “I didn’t lose my serve, so I’m pretty happy about that.”
It will require another stellar serving performance from the Czech to repeat her 2016 victory. Serena is the favourite but doesn’t appear to be feeling the pressure. “It would be wonderful to win a Grand Slam while having a daughter, but it’s a lot of work. You know, it takes a lot of work to win those tournaments. I’m only in my third one back. I’m going to continue to grind and see what happens.” she said. The winner will place Sloane Stephens or Anastasija Sevastova in the semi finals, with the home crowd sure to be rooting for an all-American matchup in the final 4.
Prediction – Serena Williams in three sets