The good news is Serena Williams is in the final of her home US Open.
The bad news — she’s facing a player she lost to comprehensively in their most recent meeting.
The six-time US Open champion Williams won 12 of the last 13 games to beat Anastasija Sevastova 6-3, 6-0 to gain the final on Thursday in her quest for a record 24th Grand Slam championship.
Williams found herself down 0-2 in the first set but went on to lose only one more game.
“A year ago I was fighting for literally my life at the hospital after I had the baby,” Williams said. “Every day I step on this court I’m so grateful that I have an opportunity to play this sport. No matter what happens in any match, semis, finals, I just feel like I’ve already won…Just been working really hard. Like I said, this is just the beginning of my return. I’m still on the way up. There’s still much more that I plan on doing. You don’t reach your best a couple months in. That’s kind of where I am now. I just feel like there’s a lot of growth to still go in my game. That’s actually the most exciting part.”
Serena is one win away from matching Margaret Court’s all-time mark of 24 major titles. If she wins Saturday she will surpass her own record of oldest Slam champion set at the Australian Open in 2017.
In the final Serena will meet the 20-year-old Naomi Osaka, who beat her in their last meeting earlier this year at the Miami Open.
Osaka in the Thursday night semifinal denied an all-American final, beating Madison Keys 6-2, 6-4.
The No. 20-seeded Osaka became the first Japanese woman in the Open Era to reach a Grand Slam singles final.
Keys had won her previous three meetings with Osaka but the Japanese fended off all 13 break points she faced on Thursday night, and battered Keys’ second serve. Keys struggled with 32 unforced errors.
“This is going to sound really bad,” Osaka said on what she was thinking during the match, “but I was just thinking — I really wanted to play Serena. Because she’s Serena.”
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