Toronto: Serena Williams and Japan’s Naomi Osaka booked a rematch of last year’s US Open final in the WTA Toronto tennis tournament quarterfinals after straight-set triumphs here.
Reigning US and Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka broke at love in the final game to defeat Polish teen Iga Swiatek 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 after one hour and 51 minutes, Thursday.
World No.10 Serena Williams was broken twice and dropped the first three games in 10 minutes but then battled back to defeat Russia’s 48th-ranked Ekaterina Alexandrova 7-5, 6-4 in 91 minutes.
That set the stage for Serena Williams, the 37-year-old American who will try for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title at the upcoming US Open, to again face Osaka after the controversial finish to their Grand Slam showdown last year in New York. It will be the first time they will be meeting after the US Open final which Osaka won 6-2, 6-4.
Serena Williams spoke after her match but before she knew who she would face in the quarterfinals. She said either Osaka or Swiatek would be worthy foes.
“It will be a good match, whoever wins,” Serena said. “Both players are playing well in this tournament in particular, so I’ll be ready for her.”
Alexandrova broke Serena – the 2001, 2011 and 2013 Canadian Open champion – in the first and third games for a 3-0 edge only to have the latter roll through the next four games.
They held from there until the final game of the first set, when the Russian’s eighth double fault handed Serena the set after 46 minutes. “Alexandrova hit really, really hard and she was hitting a lot of winners, so I was just happy I was able to just fight through that,” Serena said.
Czech third seed Karolina Pliskova kept the pressure on Osaka in the battle to take the World No.1 ranking by also reaching the quarterfinals.
Pliskova eliminated Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit 6-3. 7-5 to set up a last eight clash with rising Canadian star Bianca Andreescu, who outlasted fifth-seeded Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens 6-1, 6-7 (7/9), 6-4.
Pliskova, 27, must reach the final to have any chance of taking the top spot next week. Otherwise, Osaka will claim the number one berth.
Defending champion and fourth seed Simona Halep of Romania, coming off a Wimbledon title last month, beat Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2, 6-1 to book a quarterfinal against Czech qualifier Marie Bouzkova, who ousted Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-2.