TORONTO- Serena Williams brought her best for the Friday night Toronto crowd. On Thursday, the 23-time Grand Slam champion struggled to achieve any type of consistent rhythm. Against Osaka, it was the return of the powerful, dominant Serena Williams cruising to a 6-3 6-4 victory. Serving 12 aces and not facing a break point, Williams meant business in their first match since the infamous US Open Final last year.
“I knew her game a little bit more, so it was a little easier,” said Williams after her match.
Williams Learned More About Osaka From US Open
Friday’s quarterfinal was a spectacle of two headline stars on the WTA Tour. Their rivalry intensified at the US Open last year, as Osaka upset Williams’ chances of getting her 24th Grand Slam. Despite it supposed to be a celebratory moment for Osaka getting her inaugural Grand Slam, it will be remembered for the pervasive controversy between Williams and chair umpire Carlos Ramos.
It is why both players, heading into this match, were excited about the prospect of playing each other. To quash the negative emotions and feelings from that match so it could be strictly focused on the tennis. In the match on Friday, Williams was the aggressor from the start, not letting Osaka dictate the points from the baseline. The three-time Rogers Cup champion was powerful off of Osaka’s second serve return, generating a winning percentage of 60 percent.
Despite Williams not facing Osaka in 2019, she has spent a considerable amount of time studying her game. The 37-year-old desired to be prepared as much as possible for the time they would inevitably play again.
“I watch her a lot,” stated Williams. “I know what I needed to do to get the win today.”
Williams Makes Rogers Cup History
Despite losing to Williams for the first time, Osaka was in positive spirits. Given that she had lost in the first round of Wimbledon in her previous tournament, to have a few matches under her belt and return as the World No. 1 gives her confidence in preparation for the US Open.
“I stayed positive throughout all my matches,” affirmed Osaka. “Even though I lost today, I learned a lot, which is something that I’m really grateful for. Anything is positive after losing first round at Wimbledon.”
For Williams, her illustrious status at the Rogers Cup continues to soar. With her win over Osaka, Williams secured her 33rd career victory at the Rogers Cup, a new tournament record in the Open Era. With her semifinal matchup against Czech qualifier Marie Bouzkova upcoming, it puts into perspective the everlasting legacy that Williams has established. When Bouzkova, now 21, was growing up, she would always watch the matches that Williams was involved in. And picture herself being a star tennis player one day.
“It’s going to be a dream come true to play Serena,” stated Bouzkova after her match. “I have to keep being aggressive and defend as I did against Halep.”
Serena Williams Has More to Prove
With Williams looking to secure her fourth Rogers Cup, she continues to be grateful for still possessing her competitive fire. Additionally, Williams revealed after her match about the importance of maintaining relationships with players off the court, particularly in the latter stages of her career.
“It’s really made me realize that these are lifelong friendships and experiences that so few people can have because there are so few people that play tennis on this level,” affirms Williams.
On and off the court, Williams continues to inspire people with her tennis ability, as well as her passion for gender equality. In a country like Canada that celebrates hard workers and difference-makers, the Toronto crowd will certainly be rooting for Williams to add to her already historical aura.
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