TORONTO, Canada, (AFP): Serena Williams won the rematch, dominating Naomi Osaka 6-3, 6-4 on Friday to ensure the Japanese star won’t leave Toronto with a title to go with her number one world ranking.
Williams fired 12 aces and didn’t face a break point as she beat Osaka for the first time in three meetings — avenging her shock loss in last year’s controversial US Open final in which the American star was docked a point and a game after losing her temper when warned about coaching.
There was no such drama in Toronto, where Williams broke Osaka for a 5-3 lead in the first and closed out the opening set with a service winner.
She broke again for a 2-1 lead in the second and never looked like surrendering the advantage.
Her lone wobble came in the final game. After a pair of aces gave her a triple match point, Williams offered up a double fault and two backhands into the net before she closed it out with an ace on her fourth match point.
“We haven’t played since New York, which was a really good match for her,” said Williams, adding that she feels her own game is coming on as she’d hoped in the buildup to this year’s US Open at Flushing Meadows.
“I’m getting there,” said Williams, who hasn’t dropped a set this week as she pursues a fourth Toronto title to go with those she won in 2001, 2011 and 2013. “It’s definitely not where I want to be, but I’m getting there.”
In the semi-finals Williams will face either fourth-seeded defending champion Simona Halep — who beat her in the Wimbledon final in July — or Czech qualifier Marie Bouzkova.
Despite the defeat, Osaka is assured of a return to world number one next week after the second-round exit of top-ranked Australian Ashleigh Barty and a quarter-final defeat for third-ranked Czech Karolina Pliskova.
Canadian teen Bianca Andreescu ousted Pliskova 6-0, 2-6, 6-4 after one hour and 49 minutes to doom the Czech’s bid to regain the top spot for the first time since 2017.
Andreescu advanced to a semi-final clash with American Sofia Kenin, who defeated Ukraine sixth seed Elina Svitolina 7-6 (7/2), 6-4.
Andreescu shot to prominence with a victory at Indian Wells in March, but she had been sidelined by a shoulder injury since the French Open in May.
“In the third set I told myself, ‘Go big or go home,'” the home hope said. “Literally go home. My home is like two minutes from here. I just went out there and I never gave up because it’s not over until it’s over.”
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