Naomi Osaka says she "always dreamed" she would play her idol Serena Williams in a Grand Slam final after both reached this year's US Open decider. She said later that her cultural hybrid heritage might potentially make her more relatable to fans, pointing out, "Maybe it's because they can't really pinpoint what I am, so it's like anybody can cheer for me".
And Osaka will break into the world's top 10 with victory in Saturday's final - capping off a terrific year that started so well with the victory at Indian Wells in March.
Despite suffering a series of disappointing showings at the Citi Open, Rogers Cup and Western & Southern Open, Osaka stormed back at the 2018 US Open, defeating Madison Keys in the semifinals in dominant fashion to set up a match against her childhood idol Serena Williams in the upcoming Women's Singles Final match.
Follow along with Saturday's final with our live updates. "I feel like I set my expectations incredibly high, and I feel like after Miami, I wanted to get more, not realistic expectations, but more reasonable expectations for me". And she will against Williams, who is vintage form as she chases her first Grand Slam title since the birth of her daughter Olympia on September 1 2017.
The ensemble was designed especially for Serena by Virgil Abloh and Nike, and she wore it on the day she played against Magda Linette at the competition.
"Surreal, " said Osaka, who was born in Japan, has Haitian blood and lived in the USA since she was 3. Here's everything you should know about her. "She never gives up", writes Alexis on Instagram. "I'm sure it's different, finals and semis, but I hope she can enjoy it and play a good level". She saved 13 of 13 break points against Keys, who had won all three of their previous meetings. "I tried on her games, but she served well - when somebody serves 123 miles per hour ace there's not much you can do".
She was one win away at Wimbledon before being dismantled by Germany's Angelique Kerber in the final but Williams has looked even sharper on home soil and it will take a monumental effort to stop her. She told the US Open, "I used to play here when I was a little kid, so these courts aren't new to me". 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. She was ready for this tournament. She helps us all to believe that beauty is defined by your soul, your fire and your scars. I'm only a few months in and really looking forward to the rest of the year and next year.