Published: Sat, September 08, 2018
Sports | By Sarah Myers

Today at U.S. Open: Serena, Stephens try to reach semifinals

Today at U.S. Open: Serena, Stephens try to reach semifinals

It was Williams' first win over a top-10 opponent since returning from maternity leave, and the highest seed remaining in the tournament is now fellow American Madison Keys at No. 14. Pliskova rued the last big chance to come back into the match, Serena sealed the win with an ace. "Doesn't matter that she's No. 17 or 18 now". "I don't think there's any change with her game".

She was facing the last player to beat her at Flushing Meadows.

After trading games with Pliskova, Williams turned it on and won the next four games to take the first set 6-4.

Williams and Stephens first have to win quarterfinal matches Tuesday.

Even Williams, from the moment she returned, has downplayed her expectations and assessed each win as little more than a surprise bonus step on a long road to returning to "Serena" form. After just 20 minutes Tuesday night, Williams was in danger of trailing by two service breaks. I was just on the verge.

One match at a time. At one point, Stephens shook her head in astonishment.

Sep 4, 2018; New York, NY, USA; Serena Williams of the United States hits a forehand against Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic (not pictured) in a quarter-final match on day nine of the 2018 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Williams recovered in that game, and soon went on a winning run of eight games in a row. "I'm just on my way (back) on the tour and doing the best I can". "Unfortunate that I played first match at 12 o'clock and it was so extremely hot, but it was hot for both of us". I don't have 10 more years, at least I don't think so. This time she was able to break back, but to no avail, as Sevastova broke again to regain her lead.

"It was a great match for me at the time", Pliskova says. She clearly knows mine. She can make mistakes. She pointedly wore a black tutu for her next match as she romped to a 6-4,6-0 victory over Linette. She kept looking up her coach, as if seeking solutions. There were no fist pumps, no Serena screams, no yells to herself to, "C'mon!" She missed the 2010 and 2017 tournaments. The Czech, playing in her third straight US Open quarter-final, applied some pressure with a backhand victor, Serena sent a down the line victor wide, double-faulted and succumbed on the third break point chance.

And after claiming the final two games in the first, she continued in a similar vein in the second, breaking Pliskova to 0 in the second game and moving 4-0 up.

Pliskova got another chance when Williams batted a forehand into the net, but another booming serve, a backhand victor and an unreturnable serve saw her safely through the danger.

Despite the sweltering conditions, six-time victor Williams has barely broken a sweat in NY as she cruised through her quarter of the draw and the American will be a heavy favorite to topple the 19th-seeded Sevastova.

She finished the match with 13 aces and will take on Anastasija Sevastova for a place in the final after the 19th-seeded Latvian toppled defending champion Sloane Stephens 6-2, 6-3.

"I'm here to do my best", Williams said.

Pliskova, who seized the world number one ranking herself briefly a year ago, said that even though Williams is still rebuilding her world ranking, she's playing more like her old number one self than a number 17.

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