Naomi Osaka is 20 years old,at the US Open. Her opponent is her idol: Serena Williams. And even though Osaka is as competitive as they come -- she's shown outstanding poise all Open, dropping only one set -- she can't contain her excitement to play against the best player in the world.
Osaka was asked to send a message to Serena after defeating Madison Keys in straight sets on Thursday, and her message was pure as they come.
"I love you" and a laugh to hype herself up for the 36-year-old Williams, who is vying for her 24th career Grand Slam and playing in her 31st final and her seventh US Open final. A win on Saturday for Williams would tie Margaret Court's Grand Slam wins record. This isn't gamesmanship from Osaka either. She really loves Serena.
When she was asked how she managed to save a ridiculous 13 break points against Keys in her 6-2, 6-4 victory, her answer was just as simple: "This is gonna sound really bad, but I was just thinking I really want to play Serena."
Osaka defeated Williams in the Miami Open earlier this year, but the version of Williams she'll see Saturday will be different. The Miami Open was Williams' second tournament back, and since then she's made the fourth round of the French Open, the finals in Wimbledon and now the US Open final.
At this point, however, none of that matters. It's a feel-good story no matter who wins on Saturday. Either Osaka beats her hero or Williams ties the record. All we can hope for now is more great tennis, and Osaka and Williams are sure to deliver.