Even Karolina Pliskova was pinching herself after pulling off a Houdini act to send seven-time champion Serena Williams crashing out of the Australian Open.
Down 5-1 in the deciding set Pliskova was preparing to head to the change rooms but instead saved four match points for a 6-4 4-6 7-5 victory to earn her first semifinal spot at Melbourne Park.
She will now face US Open champion Naomi Osaka, who had a far easier time in her 6-4 6-1 win over Ukrainian Elina Svitolina earlier on Wednesday.
“I was almost in the locker-room but now I am standing here as a winner – it is a very good feeling,” Pliskova said after the two-hour, 10-minute battle on Rod Laver Arena.
“Normally I’m having lot of comebacks but maybe like from being a set down or a break down, so nothing like this.
“I think it’s going to be the best comeback ever so far in my life.”
The seventh-seeded Czech said she always believed she had the game to oust Williams.
She had done so before, in the 2016 US Open semifinal, and unbeaten this year after winning the season-opening Brisbane International, knew she was in good form.
“I was feeling confident all week and half here,” the 26-year-old said.
“There was no reason why I should for one moment think I could not beat her.
“I know she was playing great all of her matches but my game was different than the players which she played before me.”
While social media lit up post-match about Williams being foot-faulted while serving on her first match point, and the impact of an ankle injury suffered soon after, the vanquished American gave Pliskova credit for the stunning win.
“I think she just started playing really, really good,” Williams said.
“I don’t think it had anything to do with my ankle, per se. I just think she was just nailing and hitting shots.”
The loss means Williams remains stranded one Grand Slam shy of Margaret Court’s all-time record 24 major singles titles.
Pliskova said she played her best tennis of the tournament in the first set but admitted she lost her way early in the third.
Feeling like she had little to lose, she tried to regain her aggression and the match turned her way.
“That’s how it is in tennis,” she said.
“You need luck, of course, because this is I think not happening often, maybe once in life but I went for it.
“Maybe this can be over but let’s just try this game and I just went for my shots.”
Pliskova said Osaka, who beat Williams to win the US Open final last year, was also in new territory in making the final four in Melbourne for the first time.
“I think if I play well there’s going to be a chance,” she said.”
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