Serena not taking giant Czech Pliskova lightly

Serena not taking giant Czech Pliskova lightly
Karolina Pliskova shakes hands with Ashley Barty after her win at the US Open in New York on Sunday. (AFP)

New York - Pliskova defeated Williams in the semi-finals in New York in 2016


Published: Mon 3 Sep 2018, 10:41 PM

Last updated: Tue 4 Sep 2018, 12:44 AM

Karolina Pliskova, the eighth-seeded Czech, beat Australian Ashleigh Barty 6-4, 6-4 to set up a quarterfinal clash with six-time champion Serena Williams at the US Open.
Pliskova defeated Williams in the semi-finals in New York in 2016. Defending champion Sloane Stephens, the third seed, eased past Elise Mertens 6-3, 6-3 to book a quarterfinal rematch with Latvian Anastasija Sevastova.
Sevastova toppled seventh-seeded Elina Svitolina 6-3, 1-6, 6-0, leaving just two of the top 10 women's seeds remaining.
Stephens, runner-up to Halep at the French Open, was looking forward to taking on Sevastova again in her bid to push ahead in her title defense.
"Obviously it won't be easy," she said. "Quarterfinals of a Grand Slam is always really tough. A big opportunity for both of us. Being defending champion, being able to get to the quarterfinals again, is incredible. I'm just going to try to keep building on that and keep going."
Sevastova, in the quarters for a third straight year, is hoping to turn the tables on Stephens, who is trying to become the first woman to win back-to-back US Open titles since Williams won three straight in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
"Maybe third time lucky for me," Sevastova said.
Stephens could be headed for a semifinal meeting with Williams, although Williams acknowledged that in Pliskova she'll face a player with plenty of weapons in addition to her big serve.
"She has a really good forehand. In fact, she doesn't do a lot of things bad," Williams said.
Plislkova's runner-up finish to Kerber in the 2016 US Open remains her best Grand Slam finish, but Williams noted she briefly gained the number one world ranking last year.
"She got there for a reason, she has a lot of strong parts to her game," Williams said on Sunday. "It will be an interesting match."
Pliskova was looking forward to it, too.
"I know she has a big game, but I have a big game too. I have a good serve. So I have some weapons, too. For sure, there is always a chance for me."
Williams heads into the second week at Flushing Meadows tracking two milestones: A seventh US Open title would see her break out of a tie with Chris Evert for the Open Era record and also equal Australian Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 major titles.
She hasn't won a major since the 2017 Australian Open. After returning to competition in March after the birth of daughter Olympia last September, Williams is trying to avoid her first season since 2011 without a Grand Slam title.

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