Karolina Pliskova is one of the last eight remaining in the U.S. Open for a third straight year after defeating Australia’s Ashleigh Barty 6-4, 6-4 on Sunday afternoon.
“It looks easy, the score, for sure. But we played [for an] hour and a half and was not easy at all,” said Pliskova. “She had a lot of break points, it could go, I think, both ways today. It was really like couple points.”
The match’s outcome really did come down to just a few points. Pliskova converted on the only break point she got in each set, and saved all eight of the break points she faced, including five in the second set.
“I was just able, I think, to play much better on the big points. Especially the break points,” Pliskova added.
The 2016 finalist now meets 17th seed Serena Williams, who faced her stiffest test yet of this fortnight in a 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 win over Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi.
Serena needed just 15 minutes to race through the first set, but a composed Kanepi responded in the second set. She broke twice to build a 5-2 advantage, and even after Serena got one of them back to bring it to 4-5, the two-time U.S. Open quarterfinalist closed out the set on serve to force a deciding third.
“I made one or two crucial errors and that cost me the second set, or at least cost me the first game. Then she was holding pretty well at that point,” she said. “So it wasn’t like my level went down tremendously. It was one or two points that made a huge difference in that second set.”
The five-time U.S. Open champion turned things around in the final set, though, grinding out a hold in the opening game before breaking Kanepi for a 2-0 lead and never looking back. She won 23 of the 31 points on serve in the deciding set to put an end to the fourth-round battle.
Serena and Pliskova have split their two head-to-head matches, the most recent coming in the U.S. Open semifinals in 2016, where Pliskova won in straight sets to advance to her only Grand Slam final.