Lucic-Baroni Powers Past Pliskova, Continues Fairytale Run Into Oz Semifinal
00:35, Jan 26, 2017
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The No. 5-seeded Pliskova, who beat Serena Williams in the semifinals at the U.S. Open past year before losing to Angelique Kerber in the final, rallied to win the second set 6-3.
After winning the last point against Pliskova, finalist past year at the US Open, Lucic crossed herself, and after embracing with her rival, she began to jump of jubilation and broke to mourn.
"I can't believe this, this is insane", she said.
It came 18 years after Lucic-Baroni's only previous grand slam semi-final appearance. "I got a little frustrated, but then I just told myself, 'Serena, stop complaining. But to me this is overwhelming I will never, never forget this day and this last couple of weeks", she added.
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The match saw several swings of momentum with neither player really able to seize control, while Lucic-Baroni had trouble holding her serve when playing into the sun.
"No matter what happens, somebody 34 or older will be in the final, " the 22-time major victor said after her 6-2, 6-3 win over Johanna Konta. "This is what I've been dreaming about, this is what I've been training for", she said. "There have been more beatings than anyone can imagine", she said at the time. Yet, she also served 10 aces and 25 winners during her one hour and 15 minutes on court.
"I was concerned. I didn't know if I had it in me to finish it", Lucic-Baroni said.
Her march to the last four has been powered by the sheer grit and determination the world number 79 has built up over years of struggle both on and off the court, leaving her forced to start from the bottom when she returned to the game in 2008. However, most neutrals will hope for a showdown between two legendary players suddenly rediscovering their form of five years ago.
Trailing 6-4, 2-1, Pliskova called for the trainer because of what appeared to be a blister on her right foot. Regardless of the match outcome, she will finish draw as a victor, as she continues to turn a life filled with turmoil into one that inspires many around the world.
Lucic-Baroni upset third-seed Agnieszka Radwanska this fortnight and another grand slam finalist, Simona Halep, twice at majors. It was just something I didn't think about. "This makes all the bad things I've been through in my life, is now good", she recalled thinking perhaps in her story of abuses and mistreatment of her father.
The win over Raonic was Nadal's 50th at Melbourne Park, where he won title in 2009 and lost in the final in 2012 and '14.
Image: Croatia's Mirjana Lucic-Baroni celebrates defeating United States' Jennifer Brady in their fourth round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne. Having not won a match at the tournament since 1998 prior to this year, many dismissed Lucic-Baroni's chances.
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