Osaka storms past Keys to reach first Grand Slam final

Williams celebrates after winning a point during the first set at Flushing Meadows on Thursday

Naomi Osaka is 20 years old.

Jamie Lisanti: Serena Williams is a 36-year-old, 23-time Grand Slam champion who has been here many times before. "She's a really good player".

Osaka carved out two break points and although Keys saved the first one, she forced an error on the American's forehand to take a 3-2 lead. She then, in ideal form, clarified that was, in fact, the "Pokemon" theme song, but insisted the intent was still true. I should still think of it as another match.

Born in Japan to a Japanese mother and a Haitian father, the family moved to NY when she was 3 and relocated to Florida a few years later. Her father is Haitian and her mother is Japanese. "But the way she tries to speak in Japanese is so cute", said Yukie Ohashi, a 41-year-old Tokyo resident. I'd suggest that this final is symptomatic of a current group of players with no outstanding candidate and are largely capable of beating each other. "From my name, they don't expect to see a black girl".

Osaka also has a strong attachment to Japanese culture, describing her visits to the country as like a "super-awesome extended vacation that I don't want to leave", according to media reports. She is now headed to the U.S. Open for the 9 time. She has slipped this past year, falling to No. 8 after entering the US Open last year at No. 1. In fact, Serena has bagled her opponents thrice in NY this year. "No matter what happens in any match, semis, finals, I just feel like I've already won".

One of the two will make history on Arthur Ashe Stadium court, where Williams won the first of her six US Open titles at the age of 17.

The US Open 2018, Serena Williams vs Naomi Osaka Final match will take place on September 9, 2018.

Meanwhile, Osaka's arrival hasn't come without streakiness. She was ranked No. 44 in the world and had just hired Williams' former hitting partner, Sascha Bajin, as her coach when she beat Maria Sharapova, Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep and Daria Kasatkina to win the Indian Wells title.

A U.S. Open that began by celebrating a 50th anniversary could end with Serena Williams snatching a record equalling 24th Grand Slam title but it may well be remembered as Naomi Osaka's coming out party. "She never gives up", Ohanian captioned the post. "It will be a really good match".

But with six titles in NY she needs just one more to surpass Chris Evert for most all-time - and she needs just one more Grand Slam title to equal Australian Margaret Court's all-time record of 24. Osaka has held serve 73.2% of the time on hard court in the last 12 months, and broken opponents 38.9% (111.1% combined) and these stats are very strong, albeit not quite towards elite level. She dreamed when she was younger of playing Williams in a Grand Slam final, earning her chance with a Williams-esque waltz through the draw in which she's dropped just 28 games over six matches.

For comparison: Williams went to the net on average eight times during the first five games of this tournament.

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