TORONTO, Canada - In a highly anticipated rematch of their 2018 US Open final, No.8 seed Serena Williams took down newly-minted WTA World No.1 Naomi Osaka to advance to the semifinals at the Rogers Cup.
While the buzz around the match was at a fever pitch during the hours leading up to the clash, once the players stepped on court it was all business, with Serena breaking once in each set to secure the 6-3, 6-4 victory.
“It was just a better match for me today,” Serena acknowledged in her on-court interview. “We haven’t played since New York, which was a really good match for her.
"I just wanted to come out and try to win a set this time - she’s beaten me twice. I just wanted to do the best I could today.”
Indeed, it was Serena’s first victory over the Japanese player, having failed to claim a set against Osaka in both of their previous encounters. In her post-match press conference, Serena pointed to the experience she took from those two encounters as the reason for her strong performance on Friday night.
“I knew her game a little bit more, so that's a little easier,” Serena told press. “And, you know, I'm just overall a little bit better. I watch her a lot. And I was just… I know what I need to do to hopefully try to get a win today, and it helped a little bit.”
For Osaka, who wasn’t able to create a break opportunity against Serena across both sets of their high-quality encounter, it was a match of slim margins - with Serena coming away with the edge.
As it happened: Serena slams 31 winners to earn first win over Osaka in Toronto
“I honestly don't really think there was ups and downs,” Osaka reflected. “I think in the first set we were kind of just serving it out, and then I was the one that -- I don't even think I dipped. I just think that I gave her too many second serve looks, and she just did what she does.
“But, yeah, I'm not really mad at this... I think I played pretty well. And she just played amazing, which that's what she does.”
During the Japanese portion of her press conference, an upbeat Osaka elaborated on her first experience in losing to Serena - whom she referred to as her ‘tennis mom’ during last night’s on-court interview.
“I know that sounds kind of weird, but if there's anyone in the world that I would want to lose to - of course I would never want to lose - but I don't mind losing to her because I learned a lot,” Osaka admitted.
“This is someone that I kind of modeled my game after when I was little. So this is, like, such a big learning experience for me.”
Serena continues her Rogers Cup campaign in the semifinals, where she will take on qualifier Marie Bouzkova as she seeks a fourth Toronto trophy.