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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Wednesday / February 20.
  • Serena shocked by Pliskova in Australian Open quarters, misses chance at 24th major title

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    Serena Williams won’t win her record-tying 24th Grand Slam title this week.

    Despite leading No. 7 Karolina Pliskova 5-1 in the third set in the Australian Open quarterfinals, No. 16 Williams blew four match points and lost six straight games to fall  6-4, 4-6, 7-5.

    Williams, 37, was one game from reaching the semifinals, where she would have faced No. 4 Naomi Osaka in a rematch of the US Open final that ended in dramatic fashion with Osaka winning. Instead, Pliskova advanced and will face Osaka. Petra Kvitova will face American Danielle Collins in the other women’s semifinal.

    “My mind was in the locker room, I was still here,” Pliskova said on court. “She got a little bit shaky in the end so I took my chances and I won.”

    After beating world No. 1 Simona Halep in the fourth round, Williams had a match point at 5-1 in the third set against Pliskova and appeared on her way to a rematch with Osaka. But she was then called for a foot fault and it began to unravel from there. She then appeared to turn her ankle on the baseline during a rally and blew three more match points afterward.

    ”I can’t say that I choked on those match points,” Williams told reporters. ”She literally played her best tennis ever on those shots.”

    “She never complains, but it definitely hampered her movement,” Chrissie Evert said of Williams on ESPN.

    With Pliskova serving at 6-5, Williams saved two match points before smacking a forehand into the net on the third match point.

    “I think she improved her game, especially in the second set,” said Pliskova, the 2016 US finalist. “She just went for her shots, was more aggressive. She was playing very well. I’m standing here as a the winner so a wonderful feeling.

    “I’m happy that I’m finally playing two days in a row. I like it, so of course I’ll be ready.”

    After winning her 23rd Grand Slam title while pregnant at the 2017 Australian Open, Williams missed time while giving birth and suffering complications during her pregnancy.

    She returned in 2018 to reach the finals at both Wimbledon and the US Open, losing to Angie Kerber and Osaka, respectively.

    Now she’s out in the quarters Down Under and will have to wait until the French Open to try to tie Margaret Court’s all-time mark of 24 majors.

    ”It hasn’t happened yet,” Williams said, “but I feel like it’s going to happen.”

    Photo: Australian Open

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.