Williams had to fight back tears as she said: "It's obviously really incredible". Leading up to the match, Sevastova's versatile game had been compared to Karolina Pliskova's and Roberta Vinci's - the players who had beaten Williams in her two most recent trips to the semifinals in NY. Osaka won 6-3, 6-2. When asked if she had any message to relay to her upcoming opponent, she giggled, "I love you".
And therein lies the most hard task ahead for both Williams and her coach, to do what she was unable to do in 2015 and 2016: Shut out all the expectation and desire and outside noise and find the inner stillness and focus to execute her game plan as well as she has all tournament one more time.
"I thought I could get a break but every time she would hit an ace or a big shot", said the 23-year-old.
Osaka, who is considered hafu or half Japanese, was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and a Haitian father.
The American made three unforced errors as she lost her serve to love.
"I can understand way more Japanese than I can speak", Osaka told reporters at USA Today.
"To come from where I was then, in the hospital bed, not being able to move and walk and do anything, now only a year later I'm not just training but I'm actually in these finals, in two in a row. From my name, they don't expect to see a black girl".
Wembley Perfect Venue For My Debut As Spain Coach
I have no doubts about the XI playing tomorrow, but I have been surprised - for the better - by things that I have seen. I'm comfortable with the great players we have".
And Williams' husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, wants the tennis legend to know how proud of her he is.
If Osaka were to repeat her Miami feat at the US Open, it could well mean a changing of the guard in women's tennis - and a handover from an idol to one of her biggest fans.
At Williams' first Open in 1999, Osaka was 11 months old.
On Thursday, Osaka defeated American Madison Keys to reach the U.S. Open final. She has slipped this past year, falling to No. 8 after entering the US Open last year at No. 1. Osaka found herself serving for the set and she closed it out in 37 minutes. She said, "This is going to sound really bad, but I was just thinking I really want to play Serena". I've been watching Serena Williams and Venus Williams play the game of tennis since their 1st Grand Slam.
Serena Williams will equal Margaret Court's all-time Grand Slam record if she defeats Grand Slam debutant Naomi Osaka in the US Open final on Saturday.
Osaka's dream has come true. Of course she is beatable, but Keys, the 2017 finalist, was persuaded otherwise. She was the last of the top-10 women's seeds to survive at NY this year before ultimately losing to Serena, who avenged her 2016 defeat. If she's sad, she's going show it. Williams already owns the mark for the most in the half-century professional era; Court won some of hers against amateur competition. Australia's Margaret Court now holds the record.
"I think if she plays like she did tonight, she can definitely give Serena a run for her money, " Keys said. While she began the evening well enough in Arthur Ashe Stadium by turning in two error-free games for a quick 2-0 lead, that all soon changed.
"I'm still waiting to get to be the Serena that I was, and I don't know if I'll ever be that physically, emotionally, mentally, " Williams said.