Serena Williams reign has ended. Angelique Kerber is now the new Queen of world women’s tennis.
The left-handed German was crowned on another shocking night at Flushing Meadow in New York, that saw longest reigning holder, Serena Williams dethroned by big serving Czech, Karolina Pliskova , who beat her 6-2, 7-6.
Kerber celebrated her ascension with a 6-4 6-3 win over Caroline Wozniacki to advance to the U.S. Open final, where she will meet Pliskova. Kerber holds a narrow 4-3 career edge over Pliskova, but the big-serving Czech won their most recent encounter, in last month’s Cincinnati final.
“It’s just incredible. It’s a great day,” Kerber said on court. “To be here in the final for the first time that means a lot. To be number one in the world, it sounds amazing.”
For Serena Williams, it was another awful night.
For the second straight year she saw her bid for a seventh U.S. Open title halted. Last year, it was by Roberta Vinci, a 300-to-1 longshot. This year, the hard hitting 10th seeded Pliskova prevailed, ending Serena’s 186 week reign as world number one and completing a Williams double, having earlier defeated Venus in the fourth round.
Pliskova until this week had never played beyond the third round of a grand slam. But she delivered the upset as she swept Williams off an Arthur Ashe Stadium court she claims as her own in one hour, 26 minutes.
“I don’t believe it. Actually, I do believe it,” Pliskova said in a courtside interview. “I always knew I have a chance to beat anybody if I’m playing my game.
“But this is something amazing.
“Serena, she’s a champion so it’s never easy to play her. You saw even when she was down a break she’s still fighting so it’s very hard.”
After a punishing three-set quarter-final against Simona Halep on the same court 24 hours earlier, Williams appeared sluggish against the towering Czech.
But a clearly annoyed Williams refused to use fatigue as an excuse for her loss and instead blamed her sluggishness more on left knee problems that limited her mobility.
“OK, I’m not going to repeat myself. I wasn’t tired from yesterday’s match,” said Williams. “If I can’t turn around after 24 hours and play again then I shouldn’t be on tour.
“I have been having some serious left knee problems. I wasn’t tired. Fatigue had absolutely nothing to do with it.
“I wasn’t able to move the way I wanted to move.”
With the two biggest hitters in women’s tennis standing across from each other the match was expected to be an explosive affair filled with booming serves.
Williams opened the contest with an ace but in the end it was the American’s serve that ultimately let her down as she committed six double faults, including the deciding point in the tiebreak.
Pliskova, who has led the WTA Tour in aces the last two seasons, kept the 34-year-old American under pressure almost from the start and had break chances on all but one of Williams’ service games in the first set and converting twice.
Showing the heart of a champion, Williams battled back from a break down to force a tiebreak where she clawed back from 3-0 down to take a 4-3 lead.
But a cool Pliskova would not buckle and earned the victory when Williams double faulted.