By Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru
MELBOURNE, Feb 17 (Reuters) – Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka will face each other again at this year’s Australian Open semi-final match on Thursday.
Williams and Osaka have long moved on from their fiery 2018 U.S. Open title match, but that will do nothing to dampen the suspense ahead of their blockbuster semi-final.
Williams got three code violations, the last of which resulted in a game penalty, in a straight-sets defeat to Osaka, who was booed throughout the final game and trophy ceremony by an angry Flushing Meadows crowd.
The American, who later wrote an apology letter to Osaka, was bidding for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title and said she was looking forward to facing the Japanese third seed again.
“Well, I think we both have had closure, and we have reached out to each other. I have definitely reached out,” the 39-year-old said. “I think she’s a great competitor and a cool cat.”
World’s third-best player, according to Forbes, Osaka has won three Grand Slams. The player surpassed her childhood idol, Williams, as the world’s highest-paid female athlete.
The 23-year-old has won two of her three previous Tour encounters with Williams, although the American triumphed the last time they met in a WTA event in Toronto in 2019.
When asked if she would be watching films of Williams to prepare herself for the match, Osaka said she never stops watching her.
“I grew up watching Serena… It’s just more of a habit than anything,” she added. “But I feel like everyone in the tournament watches her.”
In the other semi-final, surprise package Karolina Muchova will take on U.S. Open semi-finalist Jennifer Brady, with both players looking to earn a spot in their maiden major final.
“I think I will have to bring my A-game to play with (Brady) because she is playing amazing matches,” said Muchova, who has won all eight of her eight matches this season. “I will try to play my best.”