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Serena vs Osaka tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Can Williams get revenge in Rogers Cup rematch of the US Open final?

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 9 Aug 2019
  • Serena Williams faces Naomi Osaka in the quarterfinals of the Rogers Cup
  • Williams vs Osaka is live from Toronto on Friday at 7pm local/12am BST
Serena Williams (PA Sports)

In a rematch of last year’s US Open final, Serena Williams faces Naomi Osaka for a place in the semifinals of the Rogers Cup.

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Naomi Osaka has beaten the woman she calls her ‘tennis mom’, Serena Williams, in both their previous encounters – can Williams get revenge as they face off in the Rogers Cup quarterfinals in Toronto on Friday?

Williams in action against Alexandrova (PA Sports)
This is just the fourth non-major tournament Williams has played in 2019, and the previous three have all ended in a retirement or walkover from the American, who has been struggling with a knee injury since January when she lost to Karolina Pliskova from match point up in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.

But a new course of treatment after the French Open did the trick for Williams, and she has been happy to talk about being pain-free at the Rogers Cup – pain-free, but in dire need of match practice. That’s been evident in her matches all year, and it was clear again in her third-round victory over Ekaterina Alexandrova on Thursday night to book her place in the quarterfinals.

Williams had been a break down in both sets against Elise Mertens in the second round despite winning 6-3, 6-3, and she trailed in both sets against Alexandrova, too, who came at Williams with a lot of aggression and power and without a lot of rhythm, but also peppering a lot of unforced errors. Williams trailed 0-3 in the first set before coming back to win it 7-5, and also had to retrieve a break in the second set, but ultimately it was her cleaner serving which made the difference: Alexandrova had 11 double faults (players have been struggling with double faults all week in Toronto) and faced 17 break points, of which she was unable to save five; Williams made more first serves, was more effective with those serves and hit six aces for just two double faults in the 7-5, 6-4 victory.

Scrapping through a tough match like this is exactly what Williams needs to shake off the rust ahead of the US Open, and although she was visibly dissatisfied with the way she was playing, that too is a part of the process and a good sign – she’s a long way from being contented just to win.

‘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,’ Williams said after the match. ‘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. Just hopefully just being able to stay in the rhythm and playing this week and next week would be good.’

Naomi Osaka has also been talking about the adjustment process of moving back to hard courts – by far her most comfortable surface – and going through her own search for form after a stretch of poor results which followed her triumph at the Australian Open in January. 

Naomi Osaka (PA Sports)
In a way, Osaka’s struggles have been exaggerated – she’s still 24-8 in 2019 and looks very likely to return to world no. 1 on Monday – but the manner in which she took one-sided defeats at the French Open and Wimbledon was fairly abject, and certainly redolent of a player who was really feeling flattened by pressure and low on confidence.

Osaka has, clearly, looked much more like herself so far this week. She wasn’t particularly tested by Tatjana Maria, who retired trailing 2-6 in the second round, but Polish teenager Iga Swiatek joyfully threw the kitchen sink at her on Thursday night, and Osaka prevailed in a tight contest of exuberant shotmaking, coming up with the big shots when she needed them – like the sizzling backhand that swung the first set tie-break in her favour – on her way to a 7-6(4), 6-4 victory. Like Williams, she out-served her opponent and has managed to avoid the double faults which have been plaguing other players, serving two for nine aces in the late-night contest.

Facing Williams will, obviously, be a much bigger challenge than Osaka has been confronted with so far this week. But it’s been evident from their two previous encounters – a 6-3, 6-2 victory for Osaka in Miami last March, and her 6-2, 6-4 win over Williams in the final of the US Open – that Osaka loves playing against Williams. ‘She’s my tennis mom. She’s someone I grew up watching,’ Osaka said on Thursday.

‘I'm just really excited. Whenever I get the opportunity to play her it's something that I feel is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And it feels more like I'm showcasing my skills to her, like, Look what I can do. You know what I mean?’

Osaka has produced her best tennis in both her previous meetings with Williams (the controversial circumstances in which the US Open final finished overshadowed the fact that Osaka was really outplaying Williams). But on the other hand, she’s been given some freedom to play because Williams has been so far from her best in both those previous encounters. When they met in Miami in 2018, Williams had only played three matches since having a literal baby. And when they played in the US Open final, Williams’s level dropped sharply from her previous matches at that tournament, as she looked as hampered by nerves and emotion as she had in the Wimbledon final against Angelique Kerber (and would look 12 months later against Simona Halep).

This will be a very different situation. There’s no real reason for Williams to be anything but extremely motivated and ready to beat Osaka, and if history is any guide, she will take the court on Friday playing much better than she did against Alexandrova. It’s tough to call, and I’d love to see a three-set battle, but my gut tells me Williams will win in tight straight sets.

Williams vs Osaka tennis is live from Toronto on Friday at 7pm local/12am BST

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Serena vs Osaka tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Can Williams get revenge in Rogers Cup rematch of the US Open final?

Serena Williams vs Naomi Osaka live streaming, preview and predictions for the Rogers Cup quarterfinal match on Friday 9 August: Osaka has won both previous meetings between the two in straight sets but Williams can turn things around in Toronto

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