Shock defeat for Serena Williams in US Open - loses number one ranking to Kerber

Shock defeat for Serena Williams in US Open - loses number one ranking to Kerber
Serena Williams reacts after a point to Karolina Pliskova, of the Czech Republic, during the semifinals of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Serena Williams admits her pursuit of a record-breaking 23rd grand slam title was hampered by a knee injury after she crashed out of the US Open to Karolina Pliskova.

Williams was bidding to surpass Steffi Graf's Open-era record 22 major triumphs but she bowed out in Arthur Ashe Stadium to a ruthless Pliskova, who won 6-2 7-6 (7/5).

The top seed's disappointment is doubled as she also surrenders the world number one ranking to Angelique Kerber.

Pliskova will meet Kerber in Saturday's final at Flushing Meadows after the German overcame Caroline Wozniacki 6-4 6-3 in the other semi-final.

It is the second year running Williams has lost here in the semis and the 34-year-old, who turns 35 later this month, was hobbling in the second set.

After the match, she revealed she had been nursing a problem with her left knee in New York since round two.

"Yeah, I have been having some serious left knee problems," Williams said.

"I wasn't able to move the way I wanted to move. When you're injured you're thinking of other things when you should be just playing and thinking of your shots.

"My mind was just a little bit everywhere. But it was what it was."

Williams was reluctant to discuss how long the injury might affect her and the rest of her schedule this year but was adamant she was not affected by fatigue.

While Pliskova cruised through her quarter-final against Croatia's Ana Konjuh on Wednesday, Williams was made to work hard by fifth seed Simona Halep, before winning in three sets.

"I wasn't tired from yesterday's match," Williams said. "I'm a professional player and have been playing for over 20 years.

"If I can't turn around after 24 hours and play again then I shouldn't be on tour. So I definitely wasn't tired from yesterday's match at all."

Williams added she is used to playing matches on back-to-back days given it is commonplace at most events outside the grand slams.

"I don't see how it's not fair," Williams said. "We play every single week. I have been in Toronto or Montreal or Cincinnati where I play Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

"If I'm not used to playing this much then I really should think of something different. I'm not going to sit here and make an excuse."

Williams will hand over the number one ranking to Kerber at the end of the tournament and subsequently fails to break another record of Graf's.

Graf and Williams had both spent an unmatched 186 consecutive weeks at the top but the American refused to discuss the matter. "I don't talk about that whatsoever," she said.

Williams did give a nod of appreciation to Pliskova, who outgunned her opponent at her own game, with power, aggression and a blistering serve.

Pliskova delivered seven aces to her opponent's six, won 84 per cent of points on her first serve and gave away just one break point.

"Karolina played great today," Williams said. "I think if she had played any less then maybe I would have had a chance.

"So I think I wasn't at 100%, but I also think she played well. She deserved to win today. I thought she served well and that was definitely a big thing for her."

Pliskova had never gone past the third round of a major tournament before and insists Williams' injury does not take the gloss off her achievement.

"I don't care," Pliskova said. "Sometimes it is like this. Even me, I'm sometimes not playing when I'm 100 per cent ready and I don't think others care.

"If someone is not ready and she doesn't think she is ready, she should not go on the court. But after the match I would say it's still her choice if she wants to play."

Pliskova, now 24, was just seven years old when Williams won her first grand slam at the US Open in 1999, and admits it was a dream to follow in her footsteps.

"It was always a dream to get a title, to get to the semi-final, to get to the final," Pliskova added.

"It's a big result for me. I hope I don't stop yet, that there is still one more step to go. I'll do anything for getting the title."

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