Serena Williams is OUT of the Australian Open – after injuring her left ankle on match point.
The American was serving to move into the semi-finals in Melbourne and a reunion with US Open champion Naomi Osaka.
The 37-year-old had come from a set down to lead 5-1 in the third, decisive set against Czech Karolina Pliskova.
But while returning the ball, she appeared to turn her ankle, which caused her great discomfort.
Pliskova broke that game and then won the next SIX games in a row to move into the Australian Open semi-finals for the first time after an astonishing two-hour battle.
Overall Pliskova saved FOUR match points and the 26-year-old said: “Serena improved her game in the second set, she went for her shots, she was more aggressive. I was struggling.
“I played too passive. On one hand I was almost in the locker room, now I am standing here as the winner. It’s a good feeling.
“My mind was in the locker room. She was playing well.
“I didn’t have many chances. Mentally I was down. I just said: ‘Let’s try to keep playing, at 5-2, and I will have chances.’
“She got a bit shaky at the end. I took my chances and then won.”
More Australian Open news
Serena Williams crashes out of Australian Open after turning left ankle
GRAND SLAM MASTERS
Rod Laver backs Djokovic or Nadal to win all four majors in same year
Who is Xisca Perello? The girlfriend of Spanish tennis ace Rafael Nadal
Roger Federer can still Slam dunk, according to Mark Philippoussis
YouTube sensation Tsitsipas, 20, sends fans wild in shock run to Aus Open semis
a perfect match
Who is Novak Djokovic’s wife Jelena, and how many children do they have?
Williams did not reach for the excuses book at the end. The 37-year-old said: “My ankle seems to be fine. I usually don’t know until the next day.
“I think she just played lights out on match point, literally, hitting lines. She just played unbelievable on match point.
“I stayed aggressive. Obviously I made some mistakes, but she played really well after that. I can’t say that I choked on those match points. She literally played her best tennis ever on those shots.
“It’s a good learning experience to know the next time that I have match point like: ‘Okay, just like go bananas on it.’”
Williams will now head towards the French Open in May determined to win a record-equalling 24th major title. She had been hoping to match the record of Aussie Margaret Court on Saturday.
The defeat also means Williams avoids another clash with Osaka – four months after her US Open final meltdown against the Japanese star.
This was also the first time Williams had lost at the Australian Open two years after winning the title here while being eight weeks pregnant.
Heed Your Hunch with Betway and get a £30 free bet when you sign up at Betway