Nishikori backs Osaka to give Serena strong US Open challenge

Not as cool as Naomi Osaka, but cool.

Osaka added that despite her admiration for Williams, she would have to think of the showdown as any other match.

Williams lost out in the semi-finals of her last two US Opens, in 2015 and 2016. Nineteen years later, Williams vies to tie Margaret Court's record 24 Grand Slam singles titles.

Black women are shining at the US Open!

"Last year, I was literally fighting for my life in the hospital". What is today? I was on my third surgery. I had one more to go still. Two years later, and still just as revered for her nerdy coolness, it seems as if she might be on her way.

"This is the beginning". I'm on the climb still. "That is super exciting for me".

This season she reached the fourth round at the Australian Open, won the elite hardcourt event at Indian Wells and the following week she took out Serena Williams in the first round at Miami. That's how long it took her to drop the opening two games.

She was born in Japan, but moved to NY at the age of 3 and is now based in Florida.

"When she's in front it's tough to play", she said.

Serena Williams hits a return to Anastasija Sevastova in the U.S. Open semifinals on September 6.

But even if it's not Saturday, she believes it will happen.

The nerves surfaced when the Japanese found herself trailing 0-40 in her second service game, but she managed to keep it together, battling back to deuce and saving another break point to hold and level the opener at 2-2.

"Her Japanese isn't that good, right?" The hard thing is that she's the first person trying to do what she's doing. I know how to do it. "Just the fact that it's happening, I'm very happy about it". "I felt like I've lost a lot of matches against players like this. Keep trying to improve".

Sevastova's use of drop shots had proven highly effective against defending champion Sloane Stephens in the previous round, but the Latvian semifinalist was overwhelmed on Thursday as the ruthless Williams charged to the net at every given opportunity and put away victor after winner.

Williams was at her imperious best in defeating her Latvian opponent, taking only 66 minutes to dispatch her 6-3 6-0.

Total winners? Williams led 31-10 in that category. But no one has been so far this tournament. If Osaka falls behind, it would be all too easy to accept that she's had a fantastic tournament but that this is Serena's time to make history.

In swirling winds on Arthur Ashe Stadium, top seed and defending champion Williams again thwarted Azarenka to win her fifth US Open title and 17th Slam.

Behind a display of brutal power usually associated with Serena Williams, Osaka steamrolled her way into her first Grand Slam final, beating 2017 U.S. Open runner-up Madison Keys 6-2, 6-4.

The dual-citizen says going to Japan feels like a "super-awesome vacation" rather than home, but will have the hopes of a nation behind her when she faces Williams. She shows her personality, isn't afraid to let us in, and says what's on her mind.

  • Julie Sanders