Karolina Pliskova rallies from 5-1 third-set deficit to stun Serena Williams at Australian Open

The Serena Williams-Naomi Osaka rematch will have to wait.

Seventh-seeded Karolina Pliskova defeated Williams, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 Wednesday at the Australian Open to advance to a semifinal matchup against Osaka in the year’s first Grand Slam event.

Williams rallied from an early deficit to take command of the third set with a 5-1 lead, but blew four match points as Pliskova pulled off the stunning rally for the win.

Pliskova: ‘I was almost in the locker room’

“On one hand, I was almost in the locker room, but now I’m standing here as a winner,” Pliskova said in her post-match interview. “Unbelievable feeling.”

When asked about her mindset down 5-1, Pliskova responded that she thought she was beat.

“My mind was in the locker room, I was still here,” she said. “It was tough. She was really playing well. I didn’t have that many chances in the third set. … I just said ‘let’s try this game at 5-2, maybe I’m going to have a couple of chances.’

“She got a little bit shaky in the end. So I took my chances. I won.”

Pliskova controlled match early before Williams rallied

Pliskova was confident from the start, using her dominant serve to control the match. There was only one break in the first set, and it belonged to her.

Pliskova maintained control early in the second, scoring the first break of the set to take a 3-2 lead. But Williams roared back with four straight points for her first break of the match, which tilted in her favor. Williams broke Pliskova again in the second set that she won, 6-4.

Williams fought off Pliskova’s effort to break in the first game of the third set and cruised to a 5-1 lead. But facing match point leading 40-30, Williams foot-faulted, and Pliskova rallied to win the game.

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NEW YORK, USA - AUGUST 29: Serena Williams of USA competes against Carina Witthoeft of Germany (not seen) during US Open 2018 tournament in Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, New York, United States on August 29, 2018. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK, USA - AUGUST 29: Serena Williams of USA competes against Carina Witthoeft of Germany (not seen) during US Open 2018 tournament in Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, New York, United States on August 29, 2018. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, USA - AUGUST 29: Serena Williams of USA competes against Carina Witthoeft of Germany (not seen) during US Open 2018 tournament in Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, New York, United States on August 29, 2018. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 29: Serena Williams of the United States serves against Carina Witthoeft of Germany during her women's singles second round match on Day Three of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 29, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Jaime Lawson/Getty Images for USTA)
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NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 27: Serena Williams of the United States returns the ball during her women's singles first round match against Magda Linette of Poland on Day One of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 27, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Aug 27, 2018; New York, NY, USA; Serena Williams of the USA reacts after beating Magda Linette of Poland in a first round match on day one of the 2018 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 27: Serena Williams of the United States in action against Magda Linette of Poland in the first round of the US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre on August 27, 2018 in New York City, United States. (Photo by TPN/Getty Images)'n'n
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 25: Serena Williams attends the 2018 Arthur Ashe Kids' Day at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 25, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)
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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 12: (AUSTRALASIA & EUROPE OUT) American tennis player Serena Williams poses during a photo shoot wearing the outfit she will wear in the upcoming 2012 Australian Open Tennis Championships in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. (Photo by Fiona Hamilton/Newspix/Getty Images)
(AUSTRALIA OUT) Australian Open 2007. American Serena Williams looks down at her tennis dress during her semi-final victory over the Czech Republic's Nicole Vaidisova, won in straight sets 7-6, 6-4, during the Women's Singles competition at the 2007 Australian Open tennis tournament at Melbourne Park. Williams, unseeded, will now advance to her third Australian Open final, 25 January 2007. THE AGE SPORT Picture by VIKI LASCARIS (Photo by Fairfax Media/Fairfax Media via Getty Images)
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Williams collapse includes rolled ankle

Williams appeared to roll her left ankle, and Pliskova won the next two games, closing to 5-4 after Williams was on the verge of winning the match.

Williams threatened to win the match again on Pliskova’s next serve. But Pliskova fought back three match points in the game to tie the set at 5-5.

She broke Williams again on her next serve and held on hers to win 7-5 and pull off the stunning upset.

Williams told reporters after the match that her ankle wasn’t bothering her too much.

“My ankle seems to be fine,” Williams said. “I don’t usually know until the next day. I think she just played lights out on match points, hitting lines.”

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