Serena Williams vs Naomi Osaka on court for the final

Serena Williams vs Naomi Osaka on court for the final

Serena Williams vs Naomi Osaka on court for the final

It was nearing midnight, moments after the biggest victory of her life.

American tennis player Serena Williams is looking to make history by winning a record 24th Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open on Saturday. But Osaka didn't crack a smile.

Asked if she had message for Williams, Osaka, who beat Williams in their only head-to-head meeting, smiled and said, "Serena I love you". This is Williams' first US Open final since 2014 when she won the tournament for the third straight year. "If it doesn't happen, I'll keep trying for the next one".

But even with that win under her belt, she acknowledged that Saturday's match poses entirely different challenges.

Serena Williams has spoken emotionally of her comeback from childbirth, after she advanced to the US Open final with a devastating 6-3, 6-0 victory over Anastasija Sevastova in their semi-final in NY.

"I really feel like I don't want to overthink this match, so I'm not going to think that she's so much better than she was in Miami". But Osaka struggled from there. She came out somewhat flat against both Pliskova (in the quarters) and on Thursday night against Sevastova; if she does that against Osaka, she could find herself down a double break. She was handed early exits at the Citi Open, the Rogers Cup and Cincinnati.

While that matchup might give Osaka a measure of confidence and will surely help her keep her nerves as she faces her idol, the result can more or less be thrown out the window - Serena was playing just her fourth match since returning from a 13-month absence due to her pregnancy.

Osaka, who was aged just one when Williams won her first Grand Slam in 1999, is well-known for her entertaining interviews on the tour and in the past has discussed Netflix, memes and computer game Overwatch in news conferences.

Williams and Osaka set up US Open showdown

She made the break stand up, withstanding six break points in the next game. "For a first-time semi-finalist on a big stage and all that, it was really impressive she held her nerve the entire time, never really had any kind of slip-up". Not only did the ensemble make Williams feel like a "superhero" but it was also created to help her avoid blood clots-a medical condition she experienced after giving birth to her daughter. It will be a really good match. I mean, hopefully I won't play like that again.

She's not alone in her complimentary words. Williams said she was feeling out Sevastova, a player with a game unlike most of the women she's faced so far this season - and with a game eerily similar to that of Vinci's. If not the present.

And she did it in just 66 minutes.

Born in Japan to a Japanese mother and a Haitian father, the family moved to NY when she was 3 and relocated to Florida a few years later.

Indeed, she gets Williams, who has lost only one set in the entire tournament (H/T to Kaia Kanepi).

Williams called her return to the US Open final for a ninth time "incredible" given that she was undergoing surgery for life threatening blood clots this time a year ago in the wake of giving birth. At Wimbledon she had six matches in her and, you sensed, simply didn't have the wattage for a seventh. It was the end of her 186-week reign at the top of the rankings.

"It was hard. You think she's going to let up but she didn't".

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