US tennis star Serena Williams, currently the top-ranked female in the world, was seeking a record 7th US Open title this week in Cincinnati.
But Czech upstart Karolína Plíšková, a 10th seed in the tournament, got in her way.
Plíšková dramatically topped Serena 6-2, 7-6 (7-5) in a second-set tiebreaker in US Open semifinals action yesterday, ending the US star’s quest for a record 23 major wins, which would be an Open-era record.
“I think if she had played any less then maybe I would have had a chance,” Williams was quoted saying after the match.
“So I think I wasn’t at 100%, but I also think she played well. She deserved to win today.”
24-year-old Plíšková was ranked 11th by the WTA heading into the US Open, but her performance all but guarantees a big rise through the top 10.
And Serena is likely to be dethroned from her top ranking by Germany’s Angelique Kerber, who Plíšková will face in Finals action at 16:00 US time (22:00 in the Czech Republic) on Saturday.
Plíšková had previously topped 6th-seeded Venus Williams earlier in the tournament, making this the second time both Williams sisters have been shocked by Czechs in the past month. The sisters also suffered a doubles loss to Lucie Šafářová & Barbora Strýcová in 2016 Olympics action last month.
Plíšková is the first Czech to reach the US Open final since Helena Suková in 1993, a span of almost the young star’s entire life.
Should she win, she’ll become the first Czech since Martina Navratilova in 1987, though Navratilova had become a US émigré by that point.
Czech tennis stars have been making a big splash this summer, following medal wins by many of the country’s stars at this year’s Olympic games in Rio.
In Olympics action, Šafářová & Strýcová topped country-mates Lucie Hradecká & Andrea Hlaváčková for a bronze medal in women’s doubles, while Hradecká & Radek Štěpánek won bronze in mixed doubles and Petra Kvitová took home the same in women’s singles.