Osaka unlocks Keys to earn historic victory

Posted September 08, 2018

The 20-year-old became Japan's first female Grand Slam finalist by defeating last year's runner up Madison Keys 6-2 6-4 at Flushing Meadows in NY.

Williams walked off Arthur Ashe Stadium court with a wave and twirl then waited to find out who she will play in Saturday's final. "Of course, it feels a little bit surreal", Osaka said.

Serena Williams of the US hits to Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia in a semifinal match on day eleven of the 2018 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

But even with that win under her belt, she acknowledged that Saturday's match poses entirely different challenges. "I have won a few doubles championships, so I know how to volley", Williams said, adding, "I just usually come in only to shake hands". Williams broke her service to take a 3-2 lead and won nine of the next 10 games.

Instead, the Japanese No. 1 will need to pick her spots wisely.

Osaka, meanwhile, will do everything she can to bring the match-up to the conclusion of her youthful dream. In order to avoid too many lengthy exchanges from the baseline, Williams and her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, thought it made more sense to press Sevastova.

Keys was full of praise for her opponent after the match.

In a change from her normal style of play, Williams was especially effective at the net, winning 24 of the 28 points where she ventured away from the baseline.

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But with six titles in NY she needs just one more to surpass Chris Evert for most all-time - and she needs just one more Grand Slam title to equal Australian Margaret Court's all-time record of 24. She represents Japan on the court, but feels in many ways like she represents the best of America and its melting-pot ideals.

Soon the 23-time Grand Slam victor had reeled off five games in a row as she assumed complete control and the set followed swiftly after.

"When I was a little kid I always dreamed I would play Serena in a Grand Slam final". "I think she was very courageous to do it 100 percent, especially in a semifinal of a Grand Slam".

"I think she played very good".

"Every time I step out on this court I'm so grateful that I have the opportunity to play this sport".

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.

Now, she'll have the chance to face off against her childhood hero at the Women's Singles Finals of the 2018 US Open.

Her greatest asset, her serve, was as devastating as ever as Williams lost just seven points on her first serve and hit four aces. She was the last of the top-10 women's seeds to survive at NY this year before ultimately losing to Serena, who avenged her 2016 defeat. She helps us all to believe that beauty is defined by your soul, your fire and your scars.