Naomi Osaka Earns Chance to Play Her Idol Serena Williams

When Naomi Osaka was a young child she dreamed about playing her idol in a Grand Slam final.

Now that fantasy has turned into a reality at the US Open. The 20-year-old Osaka will play 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams for the opportunity to become the first Japanese woman to win a Grand Slam title in the Open era.

The 20th-seeded Osaka earned her shot at the 36-year-old Williams after stunning Madison Keys, a US Open finalist last year, 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals Thursday night. The 17th-seeded Williams already had advanced to her 31st career Grand Slam final with ease, taking a 6-3, 6-0 semifinal decision over 19th-seeded Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia.

“Of course it feels a little bit, like, surreal,” admitted Osaka, about reaching her first Grand Slam final. “Even when I was a little kid, I always dreamed that I would play Serena in a final of a Grand Slam. 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 really think of her as, like, my idol. I should just try to play her as an opponent.”

When asked how the match ended in her dreams, Osaka seemed surprised the conclusion wasn’t a given.

“You already know,” she said, smiling. “You’re just asking me. I don’t dream to lose.”

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Source: USA Today