— IMG Tennis (@IMGTennis) September 6, 2018
Naomi Osaka and Kei Nishikori Give Japan Historic Day in Tennis at US Open
(September 5, 2018) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Naomi Osaka and Kei Nishkori have reached the semifinals on the US Open, making more history for tennis in Japan. It marks the first time in tennis history that a Japanese man and woman have reached the final four at the same major tournament at the same time.
The 20-year-old Osaka, whose mother is Japanese and whose father is Haitian, defeated unseeded Lesia Tsurenko 6-1, 6-1 in under an hour on Wednesday to make her first major semifinal.
The 20th seed was a little emotional after the match. “I think it’s because for me, like, quarters was sort of my mental goal, like every time I played a Grand Slam. And then after I went into the quarters, I kind of want to keep going, so I feel like I have to be focused again and, like, keep trying really hard.”
“I’m really grateful that I get a lot of Japanese press,” Osaka said. I think it’s because of Kei. I’m really happy about that. I just hope that I can keep doing well. I hope that they keep cheering for me.”
Nishikori’s match followed Osaka’s, making it a Japanese tennis fan’s double header. Nishikori, a 2014 losing finalist to seventh seed Marin Cilic, exacted a little revenge by beating the Croatian 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-4 in a match that lasted 4 hours and 8 minutes.
Nishkori, the 21st seed was very happy about Osaka’s victory. “It’s great to see. She’s doing well, because she has, you know, she has won a Masters. I think she can, you know, win a title now, even though Grand Slam. So I feel, you know, big chance for her.
“Well, also happy for myself, too, you know, being injured last year. You know, I couldn’t play this tournament last year. Happy to coming back, semis, and, yeah, always play good here. So I hope I can keep going.”
“I hope people watching us (in Japan) today. Yeah, hopefully many people cheering in support for us. And even here we saw, or I saw a lot of Japanese coming up for the tournament.
“It’s good to have, you know, home support outside of Japan.”
Nishikori will take on the winner of the Novak Djokovic –John Millman match in the evening session.
Asked about his potential opponents, he said:”Well, yeah, I don’t have great record against Novak, but always, you know, it’s been a tough match last couple of years. I seen a chance, but I haven’t able to, you know, make the last step.
“Yeah, always excited to play Novak, because it’s great challenge for me. Always exciting to play him. Good player. Even like today, you know, I have big respect with Marin. I knew it’s gonna be battle.
“Yeah, especially after coming from injury, I think I’m enjoying this challenge. If he wins, yeah, it’s gonna be tough, but, well, John is playing great. Either one is gonna be tough. I will try to play, you know, same like today, you know, being aggressive and positive out there and hope I can play another good tennis next round.”
Nishkori has been sidelined with a wrist injury, and missed last year’s US Open and this year’s Australian Open.
Osaka will play last year’s finalist, Madison Keys in her semifinal on Thursday. Keys defeated Carla Suarez Navarro 6-4, 6-3.
“I have played her a lot, so I already know how she plays, and I know that she’s a very powerful player,” Osaka said. “She’s really good. I know that if I play her, then it won’t be easy at all. Plus, she’s American, so the crowd will probably be rooting for her.”
Comparing their similar styles Osaka said: “It sort of depends. Like, sometimes I go crazy and then I start hitting everything. And then, like, other times, like the match today, I will try to be more consistent. But I think in a base, she’s more of a power player than I am. But I switch my style sometimes, so I don’t really — like, we both have big serves and stuff, and forehands and our backhands are pretty good. I would say people would say it’s a similar style.”
“It’s great news we both in semis,” Nishikori said. “Yeah, hopefully we do well this week.”