In a rematch of their 2018 US Open final, Serena Williams defeated Naomi Osaka, 6-3, 6-4, to reach the semifinals of the Rogers Cup in Toronto on Friday evening. For the American, it marked her first victory in three encounters with the two-time major winner.
On Saturday, Williams will face qualifier Marie Bouzkova. The Czech led reigning champion Simona Halep, 6-4, before the Romanian retired from their quarterfinal with a left ankle injury. Halep had defeated Williams in last month's Wimbledon final to win her second major title and first at the All-England Club.
Read our live blog below to get caught up on Serena's win over Osaka.
On playing each other for the first time since the 2018 US Open:
“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, because she’s beaten me twice.”
On assessing her level of play:
“I’m getting there. It’s definitely not where I want to be but I’m getting better, which is a good thing. I’ve just been enjoying my time here. I love coming here, clearly. I always do well here.”
On ‘tennis mom’ name from Osaka:
“I’d say more or less tennis grandma. That was very kind of her to say mom. It was a better match for me today.”
Second set: Serena wins 6-4
Though she let a 40-0 lead slip, the 37-year-old held her nerve to complete the victory in 75 minutes, finishing with her 12th ace and fifth over the final two service games. She could face Simona Halep in a replay of the Wimbledon final, should the Romanian defeat qualifier Marie Bouzkova.
Second set: Serena leads 3-1
In the third game of the second set, three errors off Osaka’s racquet provided a 0-40 window for the three-time event champion. On her second opportunity, Williams engaged the 21-year-old in a brilliant backhand cross-court rally, eventually pulling Osaka far enough off the court to create a short-court forehand winner. Williams confidently consolidated with another strong backhand, this time up the line, to move within three games of the semifinals. Osaka has struck just two winners up to this point.
First set: Serena wins 6-3
Despite playing in swirling wind, Williams was able to get going early with her serve, a stark contrast to her first four Toronto sets. In having the advantage of serving first, with each hold, Williams continued to stay out in front.
Both players worked to navigate the conditions, with Osaka directing traffic cautiously into the middle of the court and Williams maintaining her aggressive approach . The American’s tactic was most effective on return and Osaka’s first double fault gave Williams a second chance to break after missing two opportunities in her opponent’s previous service game. This time, Williams capitalized when Osaka's forehand sailed long and she recovered from a 0-30 hole to clinch her first set in five played with the world No. 2, finishing with five aces.