US Open: Naomi Osaka says it feels a bit surreal to play Serena Williams in finals

Sep 08, 2018, 08:52 IST | AFP

The 20-year-old breakout star of the tournament swept into the record books and tonight's championship match against the 23-time major winner with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Madison Keys, the runner-up in 2017

US Open: Naomi Osaka says it feels a bit surreal to play Serena Williams in finals
Japan's Naomi Osaka exults after winning a point against Madison Keys during the US Open semi-finals on Thursday. Pic/AFP

Naomi Osaka told US Open title opponent Serena Williams I love you just moments after she became the first Japanese woman to reach a Grand Slam final. The 20-year-old breakout star of the tournament swept into the record books and tonight's championship match against the 23-time major winner with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Madison Keys, the runner-up in 2017.

When asked on court what she told herself as she served for the match, she said: "Don't double fault". "Why," asked the interviewer. "Serena," replied the charismatic Osaka. "I love you, Serena," she added before adding "I love you, mom; I love everybody".

Osaka, the 20th seed, has met and defeated Williams once – at Miami in March. That win came just a week after she had lifted her first top-level trophy at the prestigious Indian Wells event in California. It will be the fulfilment of Osaka's childhood dream of facing Williams in a Grand Slam final.

"It still feels a little bit, like, surreal. Even when I was a little kid, I always dreamed that I would play Serena in a final of a Grand Slam," she said. "Just the fact that it's happening, I'm very happy about it. At the same time I feel like even though I should enjoy this moment, I should still think of it as another match.
"Yeah, I shouldn't think of her as, my idol. I should just try to play her as an opponent."

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