Self-belief key to Pliskova’s epic comeback
VILIFIED as an underachiever despite rising to world No.1, Karolina Pliskova had a point to prove.
Runner-up at the 2016 US Open, where she beat Serena Williams, Pliskova knew virtually everybody at Melbourne Park had decided her Australian Open fate in advance.
And when she trailed in the third set 1-5 30-40 on Williams serve, it seemed the doomsayers were correct.
What few in the crowd bargained for was Pliskova's unshakeable self-belief.
"Before the match, this time I really believed," she said.
"Like, it's still a player, I know she's the greatest ever, but I don't want to put her somewhere where I would not have a chance to beat her.
"I beat her before. She was No.1 at that time.
"I knew I'm going to have my chances. But I had to play well.
"I think honestly she played much better than when she was playing when I beat her in New York.
"The match was so much better. There were more mistakes. Maybe she was nervous, it was in States."
Pliskova was out-hit 32-54 by Williams with winners, but she compensated with only 15 unforced errors to the American's 37.
In a match spread over 130 minutes and decided by just seven points - 102-95 - her tidiness was crucial.
But the mindset was just as important.
"I always want to give myself a chance to beat anybody, doesn't matter who is there," she said.
"There was no reason why I should for one moment think I could not beat her. I know she was playing great all of her matches.
"I know she maybe is struggling a little bit with this game when somebody is putting pressure on her, too, because she can hold her serve quite easily.
"If I can hold my serve, too, there is always going to be a chance."
Predictably, Pliskova described the win as the best of her career.
"From being a set down or a break down, so nothing like this," she said.
"I think it's going to be the best comeback ever so far in my life.
"I think the biggest win against her for me is that I believed I could win this match.
"I believed from the first ball I can win. I think that was the biggest victory for me today."
Pliskova will face Japan's Naomi Osaka in the semi-finals with the winner to meet either Czech Petra Kvitova or American Danielle Collins in Saturday's final.
Osaka thrashed Ukrainian Elina Svitolina to reach her second major semi-final.