With the French Open now only three months away, Australia’s top men and women singles players’ rankings come into focus, as do our senior players’ doubles rankings.
Serena Williams has crashed out of the Australian Open, blowing four match points in a three-set quarter-final loss to seventh-seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova.
Seventh-seeded Pliskova rallied from 5-1 down in a tense deciding set to advance to her first semi-final at Melbourne Park with a 6-4 4-6 7-5 victory over the American on Wednesday.
On Williams’s first match point, in the seventh game of the third set, the American was called for a foot-fault.
Compounding the misery, Williams lost the point when she jarred her ankle during play – and then the game, which proved a turning point as Pliskova stormed through the next five games to seal an unlikely victory.
Pliskova admitted she thought her tournament was over.
“I was almost in the locker-room but now I am standing here as a winner – it is a very good feeling,” Pliskova said after the two-hour, 10-minute battle on Rod Laver Arena.
“She was playing very well, especially at the end of the second set. She went for her shots and she was aggressive and I played too passive.
“I said, ‘Let’s try this game 5-2, maybe I will have a couple of chances’. She got a little bit shaky in the end so I took my chances and I won.”
The Czech will play Japanese fourth seed and reigning US Open champion Naomi Osaka in Thursday’s semi-finals, while Williams remains stranded one grand slam shy of Margaret Court’s all-time record 24 major singles titles.
Pliskova is unbeaten this year after winning the season-opening Brisbane International.
The loss once again dashes Williams’ hopes in Melbourne of matching Court’s long-standing record after the 37-year-old also fell just short at Wimbledon and the US Open as a beaten finalist.
Pliskova’s previous best grand slam result was a loss in the 2016 US Open final to Angelique Kerber, while she’s never previously gone further than the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park.