TORONTO — It was not a lot a tennis rematch as a reboot, an opportunity for Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka to face off with out the static and sideshow that marred their United States Open closing 11 months in the past.
They met Friday evening in a Rogers Cup quarterfinal, collectively on courtroom for the primary time since Osaka’s straight-sets victory in Queens, with outcomes that might not have been extra completely different.
This time, the one fireworks got here off Williams’s racket, as her bludgeoning energy yielded 12 aces to Osaka’s none in a 6-3, 6-4 victory. Williams didn’t face a break level all through the match, the third of her profession towards Osaka and the one one during which the elder triumphed.
“I knew her sport just a little bit extra, in order that’s just a little simpler,” Williams, 37, stated. “And, you understand, I’m simply over all just a little bit higher.”
When Osaka, 21, realized she can be going through Williams once more, she beamed. “I imply she’s my tennis mother,” Osaka stated. “She’s somebody I grew up watching.”
Each of them needed to be relieved to get this assembly out of the way in which earlier than they return on the finish of the month to the Billie Jean King Nationwide Tennis Heart, the place Osaka will start her U.S. Open title protection; Williams will pursue her first championship in additional than two years; and each of them will definitely be compelled to relive some of the emotionally harrowing matches in tennis historical past.
Williams vigorously protested the officiating in that closing, dropping some extent after which a sport to penalties that she attributed, partly, to sexism. And Osaka, in her second of victory, wept. She initially thought the group’s boos have been for her reasonably than for the chair umpire who had punished Williams.
Williams collected her ideas about that closing in an essay for Harper’s Bazaar in July, and revealed that she had sought remedy and written a letter of apology to Osaka.
The Rogers Cup quarterfinal made an excellent buffer.
After the match on Friday, there have been no hugs, however the two shook fingers politely, and Williams gently positioned a hand on Osaka’s shoulder as they walked off.
In fact, the stakes and the setting have been a lot completely different.
And the American celebrity was not chasing her 24th profession Grand Slam title to tie Margaret Court docket on the profession singles listing.
In contrast to in New York, the group in Toronto on Friday was not overwhelmingly supportive of Williams; Osaka was cheered as properly. Toronto has a considerable Asian inhabitants, and he or she received loads of hearts on this metropolis when, on the Open in New York, she grew to become the primary Japanese-born tennis participant to win a Grand Slam title. She then went on to win the following main, the Australian Open, as properly.
A 12 months in the past, Williams was annoyed in her try to match Court docket’s report. It’s a feat that has eluded her in her final three Grand Slam closing appearances, and he or she has but to win a title of any type since giving beginning to her daughter, Olympia, in September 2017.
Williams and Osaka have each had their struggles since that firestorm in New York.
Williams lost the Wimbledon final this year, to Simona Halep of Romania, and is aware of time is operating out. She has been working onerous on her conditioning, however she is aware of she wants extra matches to make one other assault on the U.S. Open. That is her seventh match this 12 months to date, and he or she is entered within the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati for her closing U.S. Open tuneup.
Osaka has been significantly susceptible of late. She break up from her coach, introduced in a brand new one and has since gone by means of a protracted stretch of unhealthy outcomes. Osaka has not received a WTA Tour title this season and is coming off a first-round exit at Wimbledon.
After that Wimbledon loss, Osaka reduce off her information convention, saying, “I really feel like I’m about to cry,” and left the rostrum.
Earlier than coming to Toronto, Osaka took to social media to say that these previous few months have been the “worst months of my life.”
All week, she appeared as if she have been making an attempt to have enjoyable once more. When she made a mistake and misplaced some extent, she would break right into a wry grin and transfer on to the following level.
Osaka, the No. 2 seed, got here into the quarterfinal having acquired a first-round bye, a walkover when Tatjana Maria retired with an damage and a tense straight-sets victory over Iga Swiatek of Poland within the third spherical.
Williams, the No. eight seed, had a bye within the first spherical, beat Elise Mertens of Belgium in straight units, then defeated Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia in straight units.
Earlier within the week, Williams complained she felt sluggish. However her serve and highly effective groundstrokes have carried her. And he or she moved higher towards Osaka.
Probably the most dramatic second got here within the second set when Williams appeared to harm her proper arm as she slammed into the web put up whereas making an attempt to retrieve an Osaka drop shot. However she shook it off and closed the match with an ace.
If she was going to lose to anyone, Osaka stated, she would reasonably lose to her idol. She modeled her personal sport after Williams’s, so she handled this as a studying expertise.
“That is somebody that I appeared as much as perpetually,” Osaka stated. “So in a bizarre means, dropping at present, I completed my dream. I do know that sounds sort of bizarre, however you understand, if there’s anybody on the planet that I might wish to lose to — after all, I might by no means wish to lose — however I don’t thoughts dropping to her as a result of I realized lots.”
In defeat, Osaka may have one thing to have a good time come Monday when the rankings come out.
Buffeted by her two Grand Slam titles and another excessive finishes previously 52 weeks, she will probably be again within the prime spot. The present No. 1, Ashleigh Barty of Australia, made a shock exit earlier on the Rogers Cup, and No. three Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic misplaced within the quarterfinals to the Canadian Bianca Andreescu.
Williams was so efficient within the rematch with Osaka that she was requested if the consequence final 12 months within the U.S. Open closing would have been completely different had she performed at this stage.
“I don’t know,” Williams stated. “I believe she was imagined to win that, and he or she deserved to win New York.”