(September 8, 2016) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – In one fell swoop, top seed Serena Williams not only lost in the semifinals of the US Open on Thursday to No. 10 seed Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 7-6(5), but on Monday will lose her No. 1 ranking to Angelique Kerber. The last German to be No. 1 in the world was Steffi Graf back in 1997.
Williams who was attempting to to win her 23rd major to pass Steffi Graf for most majors in the Open Era, was also trying to pass Graf for most consectutive weeks at No. 1. With the loss, Williams is tied with Graf at 186 weeks.
The 24-year-old Pliskova of the Czech Republic played steady hard-hitting tennis and served well to cause the upset. Williams hit 31 unforced errors and had her serve broken three times while having a 53% first serving percentage.
“I don’t think much really went well today,” Williams said. “I made a lot of errors and I didn’t play as well as I have been playing.”
Asked about ESPN TV analyst, Chris Evert’s comments about Serena seeming “a little worn out” from yesterday’s match, Williams said to media: “Okay, I’m not going to repeat myself. I wasn’t tired from yesterday’s match. I’m a professional player; been playing for over 20 years.
“If I can’t turn around after 24 hours and play again then I shouldn’t be on tour. So I definitely wasn’t tired from yesterday’s match at all.
“It wasn’t a five-hour match. I have practiced three hours, so it wasn’t that huge of a deal.”
Later the 34-year-old Williams said: “I have been having some serious left knee problems. I wasn’t tired. Fatigue had absolutely nothing to do with it. If I was tired I should definitely get into a new career.”
“I wasn’t able to move the way I wanted to move, she said. “When you’re injured you’re thinking of other things when you should be just playing and thinking of your shots. My mind was just a little bit everywhere. But it was what it was.”
A reporter brought up the fact that Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou said that her knee was bothering her, and she was downplaying it. The American said: “I’m not downplaying anything. Karolina played great today. I think if she had played any less then maybe I would have had a chance.
“So I think I wasn’t at 100%, but I also think she played well. She deserved to win today.”
Pliskova, who saved a match point against, Serena’s sister Venus in the fourth round became the first person since Kim Clijsters in 2009 to beat both Williams sisters in the same tournament.
“I mean, to beat Serena, she’s world No. 1, so it’s always tough to beat someone like this,” said the Czech. “She’s never giving up. Even if she’s losing, not playing her best, it’s always tough to beat girls like this.
“I would maybe say it was a little bit tougher to play Venus because obviously I was match point down and she was serving much better than Serena was tonight.
“Even my game I think was a little bit better against Venus, but I’m not sure what my coach is gonna say and what all the people is gonna say. Obviously I beat No. 1. Everyone is gonna say it’s amazing win tonight. But, I mean, both matches were very good.”
I mean, there is not more than to beat both sisters in one tournament in New York. I’m really excited about those two wins.
“For the crowd, it’s not probably the best that I beat both of them in their country, but for me it’s really something special,” Pliskpva continued. “Obviously the match with Venus helped me, like I said, not only with the game, but also with the crowd, also. Was my first match on center court.
“So I knew I was to play center court one of the sisters Williams against all the people there, so I was prepared for it. I was prepared for a fast game, for great serving, and probably it helped me. That’s why maybe I won the match today.”
Pliskova hit 7 aces and had 19 total winners.
New No. 1 Angelique Kerber beat two-time US Open finalist Caroline Wozniacki 6-4. 6-3 to reach her first US Open final. The new No. 1 in the world dominated the Dane in the second evening session match.
At 28, Kerber is the oldest first-time No. 1 in WTA history. So hoe does it feel to be No. 1? “It feels amazing,” said a smiling Kerber. “I mean, yeah, it feels just great. I mean, the day came today, and to be now the No. 1 in the world, that was always a dream for me.
“I was trying to not thinking too much the whole last few weeks about this, and now I reach it. So it’s something really special for me, because, yeah, I was dreaming for this No. 1.”
Playing Pliskova in the final is a rematch of the Cincinnati final last month, where if Kerber had won, she would have reached No. 1.
“I knew it will be tough one because I know Pliskova plays very good in the last few weeks. I play against her in Cincinnati.
“Yeah, it was not so easy to go then on court, because I knew it actually before that if Serena lost, of course, that I will be the No. 1. So it was not so easy mentally, but I was trying to, again, not putting too much pressure on myself.
“That shows me also that I think I’m growing and I’m not putting the pressure on my shoulders if something like this happen. I can go out there focusing on my game. That gives me also a lot of confidence with the situation, how I deal it today.”
“For sure she (Pliskova) has a lot of confidence. Now especially against the win against Serena. She will go out there and try and win her first Grand Slam, but at the end I will try the same. I know it will be mentally for me also very tough because she know that she won against me like few weeks ago.
“But at the end I know how I was playing in Cincinnati. I know what to change. I will talk with my coach about the game and I will try to take the challenge again against her.
“Yeah, trying to win the match the next one.”
Caroline Wozniacki came into the tournament well below her usual Top 10 ranking due to injuries and early losses. She evaluated her tournament performance: “Well, obviously right now I’m a little disappointed not to win today, but at the end of the day it’s been a good tournament, something I can be proud of.
“I came into this tournament ranked 74 in the world and probably people ruled me out, but it’s nice to prove people wrong once again. It’s nice to have a good run. I did my best out there today. I fought all I could, and just came up a bit short.”
“I think I just need to keep going the way I have been doing,” the former No. 1 continued. “You know, just I have gotten a lot of matches here, which is great. Hopefully I can just bring this momentum into the Asian swing.
“It was a good tournament. I kind of felt like the way I have been practicing I managed to put that into the matches, so that was nice.
“Hopefully I can just do that moving forward.”
The women’s final takes place on Saturday.