For the second day in a row, Serena Williams found herself playing from behind, but picked herself up for a straight-sets win. On Thursday evening, she defeated qualifier Ekaterina Alexandrova, 7-5, 6-4—setting up a highly-anticipated rematch with Naomi Osaka in the quarterfinals of the Rogers Cup. The two last met in the 2018 US Open final, a match remembered for much more than just the results.
Osaka, for her part, overcame qualifier Iga Swiatek, 7-6 (4), 6-4.
“She’s like my tennis mom. She’s someone that I grew up watching and admire so much,” the second seed said about Williams in her on-court interview afterwards. “I’m pretty sure a lot of people will be watching that match. Hopefully I can play well against her.”
Against Alexandrova, Williams went down an early double break after struggling to find a rhythm in blustery conditions. The Russian, however, couldn’t find her serve when she needed it, double faulting twice in a row to bring the match back to even playing field.
Though Williams wasn’t quite as dominant on return as she was in her second-round win over Elise Mertens, she still applied plenty of pressure to create 17 break point chances. She’ll look to capitalize much sooner against Osaka after going just two for 11 in the second set. Her first serve provided a much-needed boost when she needed it, and the three-time champion ultimately advanced in one hour and 31 minutes.
“She played really well. She didn’t really give me any rhythm. I wasn’t sure what was going to come. It was definitely a challenge for me,” Williams told the crowd afterwards. “I was trying to feel her game out. I knew I could take it to a new level.”