1. We’ll have a new women’s champion
Naomi Osaka powered into her second straight Grand Slam semifinal first up on Wednesday, defeating battle-wearied No.6 seed Elina Svitolina 6-4 6-1. But Serena Williams won’t be joining her US Open conqueror for a rematch in the final four.
Striving for a record 24th major title just 10 months into her return as a mother, Williams exited against Karolina Pliskova 6-4 4-6 7-5 in one of the most dramatic losses of her storied career.
Coming from a set and a break down, Williams served for the win at 5-1 in the third, arrived at match point at 40-30, and went over on her left ankle as Pliskova hit a wrong-footing winner.
The 37-year-old Williams saw three more match points on the Pliskova serve at 5-4. But after saving the fourth and last of them, the power-hitting Czech ripped 10 straight points to arrive at 6-5 and hold three match points in a head-spinning turnaround. Williams saved the second with a backhand winner, but conceded the match with a netted forehand.
The seven-time champion’s defeat means the Australian Open will crown a new women’s winner.
Pliskova faces Osaka on Thursday, while the first semifinal sees Petra Kvitova, untouchable against Ash Barty, renew hostilities with Danielle Collins, after their three hour-plus battle of Brisbane.
Who would ever have picked No.35 Collins as the last American standing in a draw with Serena and Venus Williams, No.5 Sloane Stephens and No.17 Madison Keys?