The big showdown is set in Toronto as Friday evening Serena Williams will meet Naomi Osaka for the first time since their memorable US Open final.
Both had to battle in their evening matches at the Canadian Open. Serena advanced past Ekaterina Alexandrova 7-5, 6-4 in her second match after Wimbledon.
Alexandrova led by two breaks in the first at 3-0 and again held an early break lead in the second.
“I definitely feel like it takes a while to get back into the rhythm, because we’ve had a long season of just clay and then grass, and now we’re on hard courts,” Serena said. “So it definitely feels different, especially for me now. Usually I don’t feel that huge of a difference, but for whatever reason I do this year.”
“But, yeah, I’m feeling good,” she added. “Just hopefully just being able to stay in the rhythm and playing this week and next week would be good.”
Osaka continued her rebuild powering past the young Pol Iga Swiatek 7-6(4), 6-4. Like Serena, Osaka also had to fight from a first set deficit.
“She has a very odd ball for me,” Osaka said. “On the forehand side, it’s quite spinny and it drops down. I think she hits really well cross-court on both sides, so that was a bit tricky navigating in the beginning.
“I just kept trying to fight for every point, not get too down on myself, and just tried to know that I have more experience than her, so maybe in the critical points I have the edge.”
She then looked ahead to the rematch.
“I’m just really excited,” Osaka said of facing Serena. “I grew up watching her, so whenever I get the opportunity to play her, it’s something that I feel is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“It feels more like I’m showcasing my skills to her, like, ‘Look what I can do.’ You know what I mean? So I go into the matches with that mentality, and I’m just super grateful to get the chance to play her.”
Canadian teen Bianca Andreescu won her third straight big three set match ousting World No. 5 Kiki Bertens 6-1, 6-7(7), 6-4.
Andreescu let a 4-1 third set lead slip but managed to right herself and win both games from 4-all to take it.
“These last three matches were pretty crazy, but that’s just how tennis goes. You have to find a way,” Andreescu said.
“Sometimes you’re not going to play your best tennis, so you just have to find a way with what you have that day, and I think that’s what I’ve been doing these past couple matches.”
The last Canadian in either singles draw now gets former No. 1 Karolina Pliskova who advanced over Anett Kontaveit 6-3, 7-5.
“Andreescu, we never played, not even practice, not even anything,” Pliskova said. “So I just saw her a little bit on TV. So it would be interesting, of course challenging, to play her here in Canada.”
In a battle of former champions, Elina Svitolina ousted Belinda Bencic 6-2, 6-4. She’ll now face the pesky American Sofia Kenin who knocked out Dayana Yastremska.
Simona Halep continued her title defense dominating Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2, 6-1. The Romanian will now meet the surprising Czech Maria Bouzkova who crushed Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-2.
“The fact that I’m back in quarterfinals here means a lot to me. It feels like I’m getting back the rhythm which I had in Wimbledon, let’s say,” Halep said.
“I was a little bit worried with the holiday that I have that is going to be a little bit tough, but it’s normal to take a break sometimes.
“I just want to go there and to try to play better than today.”
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