TORONTO, Canada - Serena Williams got the better of Naomi Osaka in a highly-anticipated rematch of the 2018 US Open final on Friday night, as the No.8 seed moved safely through to the semifinals with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over the No.2 seed at the Premier 5 event.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion never faced a break point over the course of the quarterfinal encounter, as she served well in decidely windy conditions.
The former World No.1 landed 62 percent of her first serves in the match and struck 12 aces, allowing Osaka to win just 20 points overall across two sets in 10 return games.
As it happened: Serena slams 31 winners to earn first win over Osaka in Toronto
"I knew her game a little bit more, so that's a little easier. I'm just overall a little bit better. You know, last year was -- you know, it was a miraculous year for me, to be honest," Williams said after the match.
"I know her game. I watch her a lot. I know what I need to do to hopefully try to get a win today, and it helped a little bit. I go into every match thinking I can do it, but, you know, sometimes that doesn't happen.
"Overall, I just went in with a similar mindset of just coming out and doing the best that I can. It's definitely good for me to keep the competition and, you know, to have players like her who can play really well."
The two sets played out in contrasting fashion, with the two Grand Slam champions exchanging holds of serve over the first seven games.
Though Osaka saved two break points in the sixth game of the opener, she could not save a third - the lone chance Williams had to break in the eighth game - as she eventually fell behind by a set.
"I honestly don't really think there was ups and downs. 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," Osaka said.
"I'm not really mad at this. Like, I don't think it was up and down. I think I played pretty well. And she just played amazing, which that's what she does."
In the second set, the American broke early, as she opened up a 0-40 lead en route to winning Osaka's serve to lead 2-1, and proved hardly challenged on serve from then on.
Williams was taken to deuce just twice in the match overall, in the sixth game of the second set and in the match's final game, but passed the test posed by Osaka each time.
In the final game of the match, Williams served a pair of aces en route to opening up a 40-0 lead, and though she was pegged back even, Osaka buried a forehand in the net at deuce, and could not get a racquet on the American's 12th ace of the match to end it.
"I just feel like the entire match I was a bit too defensive. I know that can't be helped when I'm playing against her," Osaka added.
"I think there were chances where she hit shorter balls, but I wasn't expecting her to hit the shorter balls, so I didn't move up on time. So I guess points like that made a really big difference.
"And also just on the forehand side, I think I hit a little bit too flat. I think when I'm behind the baseline so far back, I should hit a little bit more spin, like, more air on the ball."
Despite the defeat, Osaka will return to the top of the WTA rankings on Monday, coupled with Karolina Pliskova's quarterfinal loss to Canadian Bianca Andreescu earlier on Friday.
"I feel like that's a position that I think requires a lot of work and a lot of just hardheadedness. I can't really let what other people say affect me," Osaka said.
"I just have to keep working hard and putting effort, and I think that the results, of course, will show. I have to not think too much about winning or losing."