Mirjana Lučić-Baroni inspires at Australian Open after decade of abuse

26 January, 2017, 00:36 | Author: Evan Mason

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.

Despite an early opening, which saw her earn a break point following a double fault and a forehand into the net, Lucic-Baroni was no match for Pliskova's height and power at the start of the match on Rod Laver Arena.

"I can't believe this, this is insane", said Lucic-Boroni.

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.

Next up for Lucic-Baroni is a match against second-seeded American Serena Williams, who bounced ninth-seeded Johanna Konta of Great Britain 6-2, 6-3.

"I admit I complain a lot. but I said to myself, "just have fun and try to enjoy the moment" and I did".

"The fact I was this strong and could fight this hard is incredible". By the age of 14 she had already won two junior grand slam titles at the U.S. and Australian Opens.

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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. She will now take on Serena Williams for a spot in the final.

Serena Williams and Lucic-Baroni will play the second of the semifinals on Thursday, following Venus Williams against her fellow American CoCo Vandeweghe, who is 25. Lucic Baroni lost that Wimbledon semifinal in 1999 to 22-time major victor Steffi Graf. "I never dreamed this", and burst into tears again.

She muttered to herself on the court about her serve during the match.

Bradaric saw enormous potential in Lucic-Baroni, despite her age, sinking ranking - and losing in qualifying at a warmup tournament in Sydney two weeks ago.

"Look at my legs", she said to emphasize how she had reached the semifinals, with a bandage on her thigh and left shin, with pains all over her body that made her call the doctor twice during the duel against Pliskova. Even after beginning her comeback in 2008 she barely made a ripple apart from a run to the fourth round of the US Open three years ago. "To see her in the semifinals is inspiring for me".

"I will never, ever, ever forget this day", Lucic-Baroni said. It was just something I didn't think about. "That irritates me when people assume things like injuries and things like that and people write about it".

Trying to close out a tense quarterfinal at the Australian Open against one of the tournament favorites, an ailing Mirjana Lucic-Baroni reached for rosary beads during a changeover and placed them around her neck.

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