Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka will face off for the first time since their clash at the 2018 US Open women’s singles final in the quarterfinals at the Rogers Cup in Toronto on Friday. The match at Flushing Meadows was marred in controversy after the American clashed with the chair umpire over the on-court violations given to her and created some ugly scenes which took away the moments from Osaka’s dominating win and Japan’s first ever singles Grand Slam title.

The 23-time women’s singles Grand Slam champion is playing the Rogers Cup for the first time since 2015 and came through 7-5, 6-4 against qualifier Ekaterina Alexandrova while The Japanese star defeated another qualifier Iga Swiatek 7-6 (4), 6-4 to book her place in the last 16 of the tournament. It sets up a mouth-watering clash between the two Grand Slam champions poles apart in their career trajectory at the moment.

Osaka has always idolized the Williams sisters – Serena and Venus – and it was a dream for her to win her first major title defeating arguably one of the greatest ever to play the game. But her achievement was soured by the clash between Williams and the chair umpire and the partisan New York crowd booing during the trophy presentation.

However, the Japanese player is hoping for a good showing against the former three-time Rogers Cup winner in the quarterfinals while she also labeled Williams her “tennis mom” because she grew up watching the American dominate women’s tennis.

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka of Japan attends a press conference after against Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan during their Woen's Singles 1nd Round match of the 2018 China Open at the China National Tennis Centre in Beijing, Oct. 1, 2018. Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

“She’s like my tennis mom. She’s someone that I grew up watching and admire so much,” Osaka said about Williams in her on-court interview after beating Swiatek, as quoted on Tennis Magazine. “I’m pretty sure a lot of people will be watching that match. Hopefully I can play well against her.”

Williams is currently ranked no. 9 in the world and is slowly but surely getting back to her best. She had to come from behind in two of her matches thus far in the Rogers Cup and admitted that it is taking longer than expected for her to adapt back to hard courts after the clay and grass court seasons that just concluded.

"I definitely feel like it takes a while to get back into the rhythm, because we've had a long season of just clay and then grass, and now we're on hard courts. So it definitely feels different, especially for me now. Usually I don't feel that huge of a difference, but for whatever reason I do this year,” Williams said, as quoted on Yahoo Sports.