Serena Williams insists she didn't choke in Australian Open loss

Australian Open: Serena Williams and Milos Raonic crash out, Novak Djokovic advances

Williams squandered four match points and a big-third set lead in a dramatic 6-4 4-6 7-5 quarter-final collapse against Karolina Pliskova on Wednesday.

Williams rolled her ankle when serving for the match at 5-1, but denied that the injury had thrown her off her stride.

The American said her ankle was not a factor in defeat, and credited Pliskova for playing "unbelievable" on match points.

Also today, China's Zhang Shuai and her Australian partner Sam Stosur won a thrilling 7-5, 4-6, 7-5 victory in their semifinal match up against Czech duo Barbora Strycova and Marketa Vondrousova. However, that injury came immediately after Williams was called for a foot fault while serving on a match point, raising anew questions about whether she is getting the deference that some think should be accorded a player of her stature. "I think honestly she played much better than when she was playing when I beat her in NY".

Four Grand Slams into her comeback as a parent and the blows are accumulating for Serena Williams. In this picture, Williams of the USA serves against Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova during their women's singles quarter-final match on Day-10 of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, Jan. 23, 2019. He will face either six-time champion Novak Djokovic or 2014 US Open finalist Kei Nishikori, who play in the night session. From Day 1, I expect to go out and, quite frankly, to win. She was just putting pressure on me.

Pliskova was happy to agree with Williams, saying with a smile: 'I'm not going to go against Serena. There have been times this fortnight when her movement has been made to look flat and cumbersome, such as in the first set by Pliskova.

The courageous Pliskova advanced to meet Naomi Osaka in the last four, denying Williams a chance to avenge her controversial U.S. Open final defeat to the Japanese fourth seed. The former world No. 1, seeded 16th in Australia after an up-and-down 2018 season in which she made her way back from an extremely hard childbirth, failed to convert four match points while falling to the seventh-seeded Pliskova.

In men's action Wednesday, No. 28 Lucas Pouille of France reached his first Grand Slam semifinal by beating 2016 Wimbledon runner-up Milos Raonic of Canada 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-4.

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The former US Open semi-finalist Pliskova said on Wednesday directly after their victory, they had hardly expected: "Actually, I was nearly in the locker room, and now I'm standing here as the victor. She got a little bit shaky in the end so I took my chances and I won". She again had three match points on the Czech player's serve at 5-3 but was unable to take advantage. She was No.1 at that time.

"Of course when the score is 5-1 against you in the final set, you don't think you can win", Pliskova said.

Kvitova said of her opponent in her press conference: "Ash is great".

Osaka will carry a 12-match Grand Slam winning streak into the semifinals. I think she's been No. 2 in the world before.

She made the last four at Roland Garros in 2017 and the US Open a year earlier, where she beat Williams before losing the final to Angelique Kerber.

'For me, right now, I just try to keep looking forward.

An eighth triumph in Melbourne would have seen her move level with the 44-year-old major wins record set by Margaret Court - but she lost in remarkable circumstances next door to the stadium named after the Australian.

"Feels great. This has been my most successful Grand Slam throughout my career, the first one that I won back in 2008", said Djokovic, who is chasing a record seventh Melbourne Park title. 'There is more matches to win.

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