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fined $15,570 by the NFL on Wednesday

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    August 14, 2018 10:59 PM PDT

    NEW YORK -- Between her strong serve and how rested she was compared to her opponent, a perfect storm of factors propelled 10th-seeded Karolina Pliskova into her first Grand Slam final thanks to a 6-2, 7-6 (5) win over top-seeded Serena Williams at Arthur Ashe Stadium on a humid Thursday evening. Wholesale Vans Trainers Shoes .The lean 24-year-old from the Czech Republic had been tempered for the task of meeting Williams before the partisan New York crowd by a harrowing but ultimately triumphant clash with Williams sister, Venus. Serena, meanwhile, had been run ragged less than 24 hours earlier in a grueling 2-hour, 14-minute clash with jackrabbit-quick Simona Halep.Williams, 34, has been in 33 Grand Slam semis. Pliskova was playing her first. Williams visage throughout the match was that of a weary, careworn veteran. Pliskovas eyes were sunken in dark sockets but they burned with ambition. Williams was hampered by an undefined left knee injury that only seemed to become a factor as the match wore on. Pliskova, by contrast, moved swiftly and economically.Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Williams had finally come face to face with a rival who had the tools and intent to outduel her from the service notch.Pliskova smacked seven aces to just five by Williams, whose serve is considered the most potent weapon ever produced in the womens game. The 6-foot-1 Pliskova, also the WTAs ace leader, put a higher percentage of first serves into play (56 to 53 percent) and won more of those vital first-serve points (84 to 66 percent). She put 65 percent of her returns into play compared to Williams 54 percent.My serve is my biggest weapon, Pliskova said. It doesnt matter if I am playing [the] No. 1 or No. 10 player. I can hit any serve I want.Pliskova did to Williams what the 22-time Grand Slam champion usually does to her opponents. The double-fault Williams hit to end the match provided a sad and surprising coda to a match that once again reminded us that those who live by the sword are often fated to die by it as well, usually at the hand of a younger rival.Because shes so tall, [the serve] bounces high, Williams said. Im shorter, so my serve goes through the court. Hers goes a little higher. So I think thats the difference.The result raises an obvious question: How did Pliskova do it?Certainly, her tactical decision to skip the Olympic Games in favor of training for the big summer tournaments played a part. But Milos Raonic did the same thing and we saw where it got him. Unlike Raonic, Pliskova made the most of her choice. She banked wins over No. 3 Garbine Muguruza and new No. 1 Angelique Kerber to win the major US Open tune-up in Cincinnati. The confidence dividend launched her run here.Its all about those last two, three weeks here in States, Pliskova said. I won good matches. If you believe in yourself, you can beat anyone. Its not only about a game and tennis, but its more about the mental things sometimes.Ironically, the mental thing that helped Pliskova the most against Williams was the preview provided by No. 6 seed Venus. Their fourth-round battle was Pliskovas first appearance at Arthur Ashe Stadium.Obviously after I knew what it was [like] to play one of the sisters [and] against all the people there [on Ashe], so I was prepared for it, Pliskova said. I was prepared for a fast game, for great serving. Thats why maybe I won the match today.Venus is either a great teacher or Pliskova is a quick study despite passing the third round at a major for the first time in 18 opportunities. But you can cram a lot of learning into a wild and wooly three-setter decided by a third-set tiebreaker. Pliskova survived a match point in that match, which is partly why she said, Maybe it was a little bit tougher to play Venus.That earlier match also conditioned Pliskovas nerves. Butterflies fluttered in her stomach before the match, but once it started she said she felt no anxiety at all. She avoided the common temptation of trying hard to enjoy her first Grand Slam semifinal, the way some Slam whisperers counsel.[I wanted to] not just enjoy, she insisted, but to win.Williams didnt win, nor did she enjoy. That was evident from the start, and the reason why is something of a mystery. When some suggested that scheduling her matches on successive days was unfair, especially in light of her knock-down, drag-out tussle with Halep in the quarterfinals, she snapped.OK, Im not going to repeat myself. I wasnt tired from yesterdays match, Williams said. Im a professional player; been playing for over 20 years. If I cant turn around after 24 hours and play again then I shouldnt be on tour.Admire her for taking full ownership of the loss, but the answer left many questions hanging. The knee certainly was a factor. As she said, When youre hampered youre thinking of other things. I was missing simple, simple shots that at other times I would make.Its hard to know or say exactly how much of an impact that injury had, but it was clear from the very start that Williams game and mood were flat. She seemed to be lost somewhere within herself, her facial expression sometimes stony, sometimes distraught, sometimes anguished; many things, but never fiery, alert or eager.Theres a price to play when youre 34 and have been walking around with a giant bulls-eye on your back for two decades. It becomes hard to meet every challenge with burning intensity when theres nothing left to prove. It becomes hard to keep fending provocations off when theres so much to defend: titles, rankings, streaks, records.Sometimes, that sword just gets too heavy to lift. Cheap Vans Shoes .com) - Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Roger Federer were easy first-round winners Tuesday at the Australian Open. Cheap Vans From China . -- San Francisco 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks was fined $15,570 by the NFL on Wednesday for his hit on Saints quarterback Drew Brees last Sunday. http://www.cheapvanstrainers.com/ ;. Paul Pierce couldnt believe he missed at the end. Young scored a season-high 26 points to spark a huge effort from the leagues most productive bench, and Los Angeles beat the Brooklyn Nets 99-94 on Wednesday night after blowing a 27-point lead.Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The Philadelphia Flyers signed defenceman Erik Gustafsson to a one-year, $1 million contract on Tuesday. Gustafsson had three goals and five assists in 27 games for the Flyers last season. In 60 career games over parts of three seasons with Philadelphia, Gustafsson has four goals and nine assists. Cheap Vans Running Shoes. . He was originally signed by the Flyers as an undrafted free agent in March, 2010 after completing his collegiate career at Northern Michigan University. Cheap MLB Jerseys cheap jerseys Cheap Jerseys Free Shipping cheap nfl jerseys Cheap Jerseys USAChina Jerseys Cheap NFL Authentic Jerseys Cheap Jerseys For Sale Cheap NFL Jerseys China Wholesale Jerseys Cheap NBA Jerseys ' ' '