By Richard Kent, Staff Reporter
NEW YORK — Did anyone in the building not expect a Serena Williams-Madison Keys U.S. Open final?
Probably not too many. Well, an interloper has changed the dynamic completely. And she idolizes Serena. Her name is Naomi Osaka from Japan.
The 20-year-old, ranked no. 19 in the world and moving up, dispatched Keys before a sold-out crowd, 6-2, 6-4.
It wasn’t that easy. She had to save 13 break points against last year’s finalist, Keys. But she pulled it off in front of a stunned crowd.
With the win, she becomes the first Japanese Grand Slam finalist ever. She is also one of the most likable and endearing finalists, as well. She was 0-3 against Keys entering the match and has never faced Williams.
Osaka burst onto the scene in March, winning one of the premier events on the WTA calendar, Indian Wells.
She has not had a spectacular rest of the year but has clearly peaked at the Open. Her power is palpable and he poise belies her youth.
It should be a fun and entertaining final at Flushing Meadows Saturday afternoon.
The crowd will be rooting for Williams, but Osaka has made plenty of fans over the past two weeks and will certainly have a strong contingent behind her.