Serena Williams' quest for a record 23rd grandslam was derailed today as 10th seed Karolina Pliskova upset her in straight sets to enter the final of the US Open. In the other semifinal, Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber beat Caroline Wozniacki 6-4 6-3 to reach her first US Open final.
Serena Williams wrapped up two records over the course of the US Open – the highest number of Grandslam matches won by a female player, and the highest number across both sexes surpassing even Roger Federer. However, the much-awaited record of the highest number of Grandslams will have to wait a bit – Williams was shocked by World No.11 Pliskova in straight sets today. Matched up on other numbers, the American was for once outserved as Pliskova fired in 7 aces to her 5, and the serve made the difference on the day.
Serena began the match with an ace and won the first point, but consecutive unforced errors on the third game at 1-1 gave Pliskova an early break and a lead. Williams needed to break back, but Pliskova's serve held strong – a powerful first serve to go 15-0, and then two back-to-back aces to almost seal the game to go 3-1.
Serena's search for a break was thwarted again and again by Pliskova's strong serve, and a frustrated Serena doublefaulted twice at 2-4 down to gift Pliskova with a 5-2 lead. Pliskova won the first set with an unforced error from Serena on set point.
Serena's lack of focus spilled on to the second set as she never looked ready to break through. At 3-3, she double-faulted, then doublefaulted again, before coming back with a first serve winner and reaching game point on an ace. However, another unforced error saw Pliskova draw par before Serena finally wrapped up the longest game of the match. That was how broad Serena swung across the spectrum on the day.
With the set poised at 6-5 with Serena ahead, and looking for a break, Serena was shut out by Pliskova who fired in her seventh ace to win the game and enforce the tie-break.
After taking a 4-3 lead in the tie-break, Serena doublefaulted again but came back to draw at 5-5. Another unforced error from Serena and to follow it all up, a doublefault on match point! And Pliskova had made her way into the final.
In the other match, Angelique Kerber made short work of former World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki. Kerber took an early lead breaking Wozniacki twice to go up 4-0 in just over a quarter of an hour. At 5-1, Wozniacki managed to put up some late resistance as she went on a nine-point streak but the set was all wrapped up by then. Kerber put in the finishing touches to win it 6-4.
Kerber took another early lead in the second set going 2-0 up and then 3-1 up. By now, Wozniacki, known for her fighting spirit, had all but given up on the match. Kerber soon romped to a 5-1 lead before losing her cool as she was broken to 5-3 when serving for the match. But she came back strongly in the next to win the match, and with it the World No.1 rank from Serena Williams, and also entered her maiden US Open final.