Lucic-Baroni Powers Past Pliskova, Continues Fairytale Run Into Oz Semifinal

Willard RiveraJan 26, 2017

Of all the extraordinary stories of this Australian Open there has been none quite like that of this remarkable 34-year-old Croatian, ranked No 79 in the world, who beat the world No 5, Karolina Pliskova, to reach her first Grand Slam semi-final for 18 years.

Pliskova, runner-up at last year's US Open, was leading 4-3 in the final set of their quarter-final when Lucic-Baroni took a medical time-out for treatment on her right leg, which was heavily strapped.

In response, her father, Marinko Lucic, said, "I never used excessive force, and if I did give her the occasional slap, it was because of her behavior".

"I missed a lot today, I got a little frustrated, then I told myself "Serena, stop complaining don't be a Baby-rena out on court there", she said.

"I know this means a lot to every player to reach the semifinals".

"This is what I've been dreaming about, : she said in her post-match press conference". "I know that they all want it, but I can never forget it, it's really incredible". She won her debut pro event, the 1997 Croatian Bol Ladies Open, as a 15-year-old, and successfully defended the title the following year.

It will be only the second time she has appeared in a singles Grand Slam semi-final, with her last way back in 1999 at Wimbledon. Three weeks later she reached the final at the Strasburg Open as a qualifier, losing to Steffi Graf. Between 2004 and 2007 she competed in only six tournaments because she couldn't afford to travel to matches to further her career.

Pliskova took an early lead in the first set only to be pegged back by the aggressive tactics of her 34-year-old opponent, who had heavy strapping around both her left thigh and calf. I think she thought more about the return of Mirjana, so that's why her serve went down. However, most neutrals will hope for a showdown between two legendary players suddenly rediscovering their form of five years ago.

"I go back and forth with it", she said when asked about whether she'd write a book detailing the trials of her twenties.

Wednesday's victory, so long after her last appearance in a major tournament semi-final, has been described as a "fairytale" by Charlie Eccleshare of the Telegraph. "This is insane, the only thing I can say is "God is good". She now stands one win away from the final. Having not won a match at the tournament since 1998 prior to this year, many dismissed Lucic-Baroni's chances.

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.

Lucic-Baroni upset third-seed Agnieszka Radwanska this fortnight and another grand slam finalist, Simona Halep, twice at majors.

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