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UK News Desk

Serena, Osaka ready to write history

Williams and Osaka, targeting maiden Grand Slam title, will meet in a battle of generations at Flushing Meadows

Last Updated: 08/09/18 7:07am

Serena Williams will equal Margaret Court’s all-time Grand Slam record if she defeats Grand Slam debutant Naomi Osaka in the US Open final on Saturday.

The American, who turns 37 later this month, can secure her 24th Grand Slam title and cap a remarkable comeback from life-threatening postnatal complications following the birth of her first child Alexis Olympia.

Victory for Osaka, who is the first Japanese woman to reach a major showpiece, will also be a great sporting story, but despite facing an opponent 16 years younger, Williams’ hunger appears stronger than ever.

I just feel like there’s a lot of growth to still go in my game. That’s actually the most exciting part.

Serena Williams

“This is just the beginning of my return – I am still on the way up,” Williams said after her semi-final victory against Anastasija Sevastova.

“There is still a lot more I plan on doing. You don’t reach your best a couple of months [into your comeback].

“I just feel like there’s a lot of growth to still go in my game. That’s actually the most exciting part.”

Fact file comparison: Serena Williams / Naomi Osaka

Age 36 20
Height 5’9” 5’11”
Nationality American Japanese
Ranking 26 19
Highest ranking 1 17
Grand Slam singles titles 23 0
WTA singles titles 72 1

The former world No 1 described her return to the final in New York as “incredible” and victory will also see her surpass Chris Evert’s six titles at Flushing Meadows.

“I got a little emotional out there because last year I was literally fighting for my life in the hospital. I was on my third surgery. I had one more to go still,” she said.

“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.

“This is the beginning. I’m not there yet. I’m on the climb still. Even though I’m not a spring chicken, I feel I still have a very, very bright future. That is super exciting for me.”

Williams has improved as the tournament has progressed but faces a stern challenge against the impressive Osaka, who like Williams has only lost one set during the fortnight in New York.

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.

“I shouldn’t think of her as my idol, just as an opponent,” said Osaka.

Did you know?

Naomi Osaka is the youngest US Open women’s finalist since 19-year-old Caroline Wozniacki in 2009. She will face Serena Williams, who made her first Grand Slam appearance when Osaka was three months old.

“When I was a little kid I always dreamed I would play Serena in a Grand Slam final. At the same time I feel like even though I should enjoy this moment, I should still think of it as another match.”

The Japanese youngster won her first WTA title at Indian Wells, before saying “this is probably going to be the worst acceptance speech of all time” and offering an unfiltered insight into her personality.

Naomi Osaka defeated Daria Kasatkina to win the Indian Wells title

Naomi Osaka defeated Daria Kasatkina to win the Indian Wells title

Despite her shy on-court demeanour, Osaka is quickly becoming one of the best players on tour and victory over Williams will see her jump into the top 10 for the first time.

Saturday’s encounter will be the pair’s second encounter after they met in the first round of the Miami Open with Osaka easing to a 6-3 6-2 victory, with Williams featuring in only the second event of her comeback from maternity leave.

Williams’ determination to win is unquestionable but Osaka offered an insight into her drive when asked how her dream meetings with her idol on the Grand Slam stage finished.

“I don’t dream to lose,” she said.

Williams to play Osaka in final

Serena Williams will play Naomi Osaka in the US Open final after they came through Thursday’s semi-finals

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