NEW YORK – The prospect of a Naomi Osaka-Serena Williams U.S. Open final rematch that hung tantalisingly over the year's final Grand Slam disappeared on Monday with Swiss Belinda Bencic the spoiler by claiming a 7-5 6-4 fourth round win over the Japanese holder.
It was a subdued exit for the world number one compared to the chaotic scenes of a year ago when Osaka claimed her first major title amidst controversy after an explosive confrontation between chair umpire Carlos Ramos and an enraged Williams.
That match saw Williams deducted a point and later a game for her behaviour, which included a smashed racket and calling Ramos a “liar”, and provided the juiciest storyline coming into this year's U.S. Open which picked up steam through the first week as the two women again appeared on a collision course.
Osaka is now gone though and, according to Williams, Ramos was never here. “I don't know who that is,” she had said when earlier asked about Ramos and last year's events.
The Portuguese umpire is officiating at Flushing Meadows but not in any of Williams' matches so for the former-world number one it is out sight out of mind as she continues her quest for a record equalling 24th career Grand Slam on Tuesday with a quarter-final meeting against China's Wang Qiang.