Serena Williams vs Naomi Osaka, US Open 2018 final

Serena Williams vs Naomi Osaka, US Open 2018 final

Williams, considered one of the all-time greats in tennis, has a fan in Osaka, who considers the historic final her "dream match", according to TIME.

Serena Williams is the favorite heading into the US Open final against Naomi Osaka, but the Japanese Kei Nishikori believes it won't be easy for the American.

This neatly moves me on to the current US Open - yes, the draw has opened up for Williams and she hasn't played almost as high an opponent quality as would be usual for a non-top seed (I still wonder how she'd have fared against Simona Halep in a relatively early round) but Williams' data has been extremely impressive.

When asked if she had anything to say to Williams, Osaka gushed: "I love you" before bursting into nervous laughter, the Times reported.

The 36-year-old American will play Japan's Naomi Osaka in Saturday's final after the 20th seed beat Madison Keys. "At the same time I feel like even though I should enjoy this moment, I should still think of it as another match". But Osaka struggled from there. Hobbled by injuries, her world ranking peaked at No 289 earlier this year, and while her sister shines at Flushing Meadows, she has been busy scrapping away at second-tier $60,000 tournaments in Hungary and Switzerland. If you had told Serena before the tournament that would have to beat Anastasija Sevastova and Naomi Osaka in her final two matches to win her 24th Slam, she would have twirled in her tutu.

"To come from where I was then, in the hospital bed, not being able to move and walk and do anything, now only a year later I'm not just training but I'm actually in these finals, in two in a row".

Osaka and Williams have played against each other once before, at Miami in March, and it was the Japanese upstart who used her formidable power to topple her idol in straight sets. Keys, the 2017 US Open runner-up, had nothing but praise for Osaka after the match. "My impression of her is that she sticks to her beliefs and is powerful". I think she is one of the most well-known female athletes now. Twitter was abuzz in reaction, and everyone from Star Jones to Soledad O'Brien was praising Osaka. After breaking again for a 4-2 lead she produced a convincing hold that featured the first of her four aces.

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The Japanese sensation can expect a tough test this time around but she has the game to test even the best in the business, which was evident during her title-winning run in Indian Wells. If not the present.

Tennis is not as big in Japan as baseball, soccer or sumo, but Osaka's 6-2 6-4 semi-final win over Keys made the front pages of major local newspapers on Thursday - although it was dwarfed by news of the quake that struck the northern island of Hokkaido earlier that day.

Now, she is back playing at her home Grand Slam and looking close to her very best. First, she was banned by the French Federation from wearing the now infamous "cat suit" which was actually created to help her body resist blood clots, which she was at a particularly high risk for after her arduous pregnancy.

After reaching her maiden Grand Slam final Osaka spoke of realising a dream in booking a meeting with Williams, in what has already been a breakthrough season. Despite retiring more than four years ago, Li remains one of the most bankable stars in Asia, and it would seem as if Osaka could follow in her footsteps.

That appeal would only expand if she can claim the trophy on Saturday - in her first Grand Slam final, against her idol.

In fact she closed it out with a service victor that bounced wildly off the frame of Keys's racquet.

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