US Open: Naomi Osaka ends Japan's 22-year wait; faces Madison Keys for final spot
Osaka, 20, wasn't born when compatriot Kimiko Date made the Wimbledon semi-finals in 1996, but now she has the opportunity to go one better by reaching a maiden Grand Slam final
Naomi Osaka became the first Japanese woman in 22 years to reach the semi-finals of a Grand Slam on Wednesday when she defeated Lesia Tsurenko 6-1, 6-1 in the last-eight of the US Open, admitting she was "freaking out" inside.
Osaka, 20, wasn't born when compatriot Kimiko Date made the Wimbledon semi-finals in 1996, but now she has the opportunity to go one better by reaching a maiden Grand Slam final. Later Wednesday, Osaka was joined in the record books by compatriot Kei Nishikori who reached his third semi-final at the US Open. It's the first time that a Japanese man and woman have made the semis at the same Slam.
To get to Saturday's championship match, 20th seed Osaka will have to get past US 14th seed Madison Keys, who breezed past Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro 6-4, 6-3. Keys, the 2017 runner-up, leads Osaka 3-0 in career meetings including the third round at the US Open in 2016 when she battled back from 1-5 in the final set to triumph.
"It really means a lot to get to the semis," said Osaka whose post-match, on-court interview endeared her further to a growing legion of fans. Osaka celebrated her win calmly and coolly unlike the floods of tears which greeted her last-16 victory over Aryna Sabalenka.
"I cried a lot last time and there were lots of people making fun of me. So his time I went straight to the net. I was freaking out inside and my whole body was shaking but overall I am most proud of not breaking a racquet," she added.
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