From diverse background, Naomi Osaka marches into forefront at U.S. Open

Kristopher Nichols
September 6, 2018

Naomi Osaka of Japan in her quarterfinal match against Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine at Arthur Ashe Stadium during the U.S. Open tennis tournament in NY on Wednesday.

Now, she needs to do it one more time to advance to her first career final.

After Naomi Osaka had routed Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko 6-1 6-1 to become the first Japanese woman in 22 years to reach a Grand Slam semi-final, Nishikori followed his compatriot into the last four in a match lasting over four hours.

Nishikori raced into a 4-1 lead but Cilic broke back to take the set to 4-4.

Naomi Osaka won her quarterfinal in the match that preceded Nishikori's.

Kei Nishikori has advanced to the US Open semi-finals with a grinding five-set victory over Marin Cilic, gaining a small measure of revenge on the man who crushed his grand slam dream in the 2014 final.

The pair both reached their first grand slam final here in 2014, with Cilic going on to claim a straight-sets victory. Nishikori said this week that he was nervous once that championship match began - but Wednesday's match was nothing like that day.

Instead, it resembled their 2010 second-round match in Flushing Meadows, when Nishikori rallied to win in five sets in 4:59, the fifth-longest men's singles match by time in U.S. Open history.

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All that mattered, really, was that Djokovic managed to do what Roger Federer could not two nights earlier: beat 55th-ranked John Millman at the US Open.

"It's great to see", said Nishikori who missed the 2017 US Open due to injury.

Osaka had it much easier, continuing what's been a largely dominant run through the draw by winning in just 57 minutes, the third time in her five matches she didn't even have to play an hour.

Osaka, who lived in her native Japan until she was 3, started playing tennis in NY after her father saw the Williams sisters playing at the French Open in 1999 and chose to teach his daughters.

Up next up for Osaka will be the victor of the evening match between 2017 runner-up Madison Keys, who at 14 is the highest seed left in the women's draw, and Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro. "I was not feeling well", she said. The 14th-seeded American used her big-strike game built on serves and forehands to overpower No. 30 Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-4, 6-3 in the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows on Wednesday night.

She pushed some balls a few feet past the baseline, often failing to make Osaka do anything special to win a point and finishing with 31 unforced errors. Keys also lost to Stephens in the French Open semifinals this June.

The Indian Wells victor dropped just two games in the entire match and had far too much for her opponent, who had stunned Caroline Wozniacki in the second round.

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