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Six-time champion Serena into US Open semifinals as champion Stephens exits


Serena Williams of the United States reacts during her quarterfinal match against Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic at the US Open in New York. - AP/PTI
 NEW YORK, Sept 5: Six-time champion Serena Williams shook off a sluggish start to power past eighth-seeded Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 6-3 and into the US Open semifinals.

The US superstar, chasing a record-equalling 24th major title, surrendered an early break to Pliskova, but she roared back with a streak of eight straight games to put away the opening set and take a 4-0 lead in the second against the woman who beat her in the semifinals at Flushing Meadows in 2016.

“I just wanted to play better,” Williams said of her mindset as she trailed 3-1 in the first on Tuesday.

“I was thinking, you know, I can play better, so that was the good news.”

Williams did indeed cut down on the errors, and came up with the big serves when she needed them.

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.

Pliskova, who managed to convert just two of 12 break point chances in the contest, said Williams was simply too good in the important moments.

“She hit all first serves on the break points, which is always a little bit tougher to return,” Pliskova said.

“The second set, she was just mixing the serve. She was going a lot of wide. Not much that I could do on the break points.” Williams did drop her serve once in the second, coughing up one of her five double faults on break point as Pliskova narrowed the gap to 4-1. – AFP

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