In addition to losing a chance to win her 23rd Grand Slam crown, Serena Williams also lost her no.1 singles rankings. In Thursday’s women’s singles semifinal, the American was forced into submission by no.10 seeded Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic. Serena’s stunning defeat was an anticlimax after her smooth progress in the tournament so far. For Serena’s conqueror Pliskova, the 2016 US Open will go down in her cherished memories for ever. She defeated both the Williams sisters in this tournament and reached the final of a major for the first time in her life. In the other semifinal, Germany’s no.2 seed Angelique Kerber achieved a double success by not just reaching another Grand Slam final but also dethroning the great Serena Williams from her supreme no.1 ranking that she held for 186 weeks on trot. Kerber didn’t have much problem in out playing a resurgent Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark to enter another Grand Slam final.
Serena Williams is no longer the world’s no.1 women’s singles player. Though the official announcement to that effect will only be made next Monday, the US star lost her first place to Angelique Kerber of Germany by failing to reach the final of the US open. Serena Williams, who broke Roger Federer’s 307 match-win record in Grand Slams earlier this week, occupied the no.1 spot for 186 weeks, a feat that also matches with Steffi Graf’s reign at the top for the same period. On Thursday, however, Serena looked in trouble from the very start of her match against 10th seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova. It was apparent that a sluggish left knee wouldn’t allow Serena the required court coverage and Pliskova obviously exploited her opponent’s handicap. The 24-year old Czech player is already a world leader in the count of aces in women’s tennis and Thursday proved a great time for her to practice that superiority. Pliskova’s forceful game in the first set completely subdued Serena as the Czech raced to a 6-2 win in mere 26 minutes.
The second set saw Serena’s hobble becoming more prominent but the American still tried to make a recovery after winning the opening game. But Pliskova reeled off the next three points and Serena faced a service break for the fourth game on trot. Though the American managed to stave off the break, the pressure was clearly mounting on her. The lanky Pliskova, who stands 6ft 1in, didn’t relent and coasted strongly in her service game. In the fifth game, Serena lost her serve and the Czech led 3-2 but a break-back by Serena leveled things up. By this time, Serena’s knee almost buckled up and she found it difficult to retrieve Pliskova’s deep shots placed on corners. Both players kept holding their serves and when, Pliskova boomed a 109mph ace to close the 12th game and made it 6-6, the fate of the match hung on the tiebreak. Pliskova began by taking the first three points but Serena fought back and went 4-3 up for a mini break. Then ensued a 17-shot rally, which the Czech won and moved within two points of a famous victory. Serena’s cup of misery overflowed, when she double faulted on the match point and handed a deserved win to her opponent.
On Saturday, Pliskova will need to counter Germany’s newly crowned world no.1 Angelique Kerber for the US Open title. On her part, Kerber was all power and craft against Denmark’s former world no.1 Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 6-3. Kerber fired past the Dane in the first set to lead 4-0 before Wozniacki reduced the deficit to 4-3 but the German had already built the momentum and Wozniacki committed some crucial errors to hand over the first set to the German. In the second set too, Kerber broke early to mount a 2-0 lead. There was no doubt about the winner at this stage as Wozniacki’s game became more error-prone. She couldn’t handle Kerber’s forceful play as the German coasted to the final with a 6-4, 6-3 win.