NEW YORK (Reuters): Serena Williams fought back from a break down in the first set to beat Czech eighth seed Karolina Pliskova 6-4 6-3 and reach the semi-finals of the US Open in suffocating conditions on Tuesday.
The 36-year-old, who is bidding for a record seventh title at Flushing Meadows as well her 24th career Grand Slam crown, started sluggishly at the Arthur Ashe Stadium , allowing Pliskova to take a 3-1 lead in the opening set.
With the heat rule in effect and junior matches on the outside courts suspended earlier in the day, Williams made 22 unforced errors in the opening set but showed all of her big-match pedigree to battle back and close out the set by winning the last four games.
“The crowd was really rooting for me and I felt so bad because everyone out here was cheering and I wasn’t winning so I thought I had to try harder,” Williams said courtside.
“I really feel like right now I’m playing free. I was having a baby this time last year so I have nothing to prove.”
The second set was far more comfortable for the number 17 seed.