A year ago, Serena Williams took on a rising star in the final of the 2018 U.S Open in Naomi Osaka. In the 2019 competition, another prospect stands between her and glory: Bianca Andreescu.
Williams has played her best tennis of the year at Flushing Meadows, moving through the gears in the latter stages of the competition. The manner in which she dispatched Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-1 in the semi-finals was a statement of intent.
Andreescu has proved herself as a player to be taken seriously, though, continually building momentum in her breakthrough year. The 19-year-old showed brilliant composure to edge past Belinda Bencic in two tight sets in the semi-finals.
U.S. Open: Women's Final Schedule
Date: Saturday, September 7
Time: 9 p.m. (BST), 4 p.m. (ET)
Winner: $3.85 million
Runner-up: $1.9 million
Full prize-money details are available on the U.S. Open website.
Saturday's showdown between Williams and Andreescu has all the makings of a classic, as it will feature two players in terrific form at different stages of their careers.
For Williams, just one win separates her from what would be a historic 24th Grand Slam title. As Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times highlighted, the first of those successes came before Andreescu was born:
The experience Williams has at this level will make her the favourite at Arthur Ashe Stadium, as she's dealt with the pressure of major finals on so many occasions.
Williams is arguably playing her best tennis since returning to the sport after giving birth in 2017. Prior to their semi-final showdown, Svitolina had not lost a set at the 2019 U.S. Open, but the 37-year-old was able to brush aside the Ukrainian with a swagger.
Williams has been moving brilliantly on court and has produced some high-quality tennis on clutch points. The WTA Insider account commented on how effective her serve has been in the competition too:
Having lost to Osaka in a dramatic final a year ago, Williams will be desperate to make amends. The 23-time Grand Slam champion has already spoken about how much admiration she has for her young opponent this time around:
Although 2019 has been blemished by some injury issues for Andreescu, overall it's been an incredible year for the Canadian.
Despite her tender years, she's showcased spades of maturity on her way to the final, overcoming some challenging moments against Bencic to notch a win in straight sets.
At the end of the contest, it was clear how much it meant to Andreescu to advance to her first Grand Slam final:
Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times offered some insight into the youngster's motivational techniques ahead of the clash with Williams:
Plenty of 19-year-olds would be inhibited by playing Williams on an iconic court in a Grand Slam final, but it's difficult to see Andreescu taking a backwards step. She's relished every challenge that has come her way at Flushing Meadows.
However, the tennis Williams is playing is on a different level to the rest of the women's game. That blend of quality, power and experience will be enough to see her through.
Prediction: Williams to win in three sets.