Naomi Osaka Avenges Painful Loss to Beat Madison Keys to Reach Her First Major Final at the US Open
(September 6, 2018) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Naomi Osaka became the first Japanese and Haitian player to reach a major final when she beat American Madison Keys 6-2, 6-4. She’ll play her idol Serena Williams in the final on Saturday. For the woman who represents Japan, it was her first-ever win over 14th seeded Keys. The win erased a painful loss from two years ago at the US Open when the 20-year-old, 20th seed was leading Keys 5-1 in the third set and lost the next six straight games to lose the match.
“When I entered the arena to play my match today, I was really excited because I’ve never played a night match here.,” noted the winner. “And, yeah, I knew the roof was closed, so it was going to be really loud. I thought that would make it more fun. So I was happy.”
The key statistic in the match for Keys was her failure to convert on break points. She was 0-13 on break point chances.
“I mean, honestly, it was just trying — I felt like if I could break, maybe I could get back into it,” said Keys. “Every time I had a breakpoint, it was an ace or a winner or something like that.
“I mean, it’s obviously tough because you keep fighting, trying to get the breakpoint, then for her to come up with some of the shots, it was difficult. But you’re in that match and you think, Okay, she’s going to let up eventually. She didn’t, so… All credit to her.”
“I mean, honestly, looking back at the match, there was what I would consider a sloppy game, just missed returns, early in the first set. Other than that, I mean, every time I had a breakpoint, anything like that, she came up with some unbelievable shots.
“As far as being disappointed, obviously, but honestly she just played better than me tonight.”
“I just think not getting too frustrated because she did have a lot of breakpoints and, uhm, I had to play really well during those moments. Also during the last game that I had to serve out, I lost the first point, and I was really tight,” said Osaka.” I was able to serve really good after that.”
“It was really impressive. For a first-time semifinalist on a big stage and all that, it was really impressive she held her nerve the entire time, never really had any kind of slipup.”
“Of course it feels a little bit, like, surreal. Even when I was a little kid, I always dreamed that I would play Serena in a final of a Grand Slam,” Osaka said. “Just the fact that it’s happening, I’m very happy about it.
“At the same time I feel like even though I should enjoy this moment, I should still think of it as another match. Yeah, I shouldn’t really think of her as, like, my idol. I should just try to play her as an opponent.”
“I think to come in as a finalist for the first time and get to the semifinals, I’m really proud of that,” Keys said. “There were definitely some matches going into it I was nervous and had that extra expectation on myself. To be able to do as well as I did following up last year, I’m definitely proud of that.”
13 break points saved…How did you do that?
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 7, 2018
Osaka beat Serena Williams in the first round of the Miami Open, Williams’ second tournament back from maternity leave. I t was Osaka’s first match after winning Indian Wells.
“It’s really cool that I was able to play her so early. Of course, I feel like since the circumstances were so different, I’ll be able to see, like, how she changed and stuff. I think that experience was really good for me.
“I think that I’m really grateful I had the experience of Indian Wells because that was also another big tournament. So for me, the quarters was bigger than getting to the semis. I think after I passed that stage, then I was fine again.”
“For me she’ll (Serena) always be someone I look up to. But tennis-wise, I want to try to do my own thing. I want to be my own person. Like, I don’t really think where that — I don’t know how to say. I don’t really think, like, I want to do exactly what she does. So it’s not my goal.
“I know that I say that I really love her, but it’s not my immediate goal to do everything she does. I know everyone has their own way of doing things. Like, there’s a process. I think that’s what makes everyone really individual.”
“Serena is not a challenger,” said Osaka. “Of course I feel like I’m a challenger. She’s been in so many Grand Slam finals, she knows how it feels. I’m still really new, I think. For me, that’s the fun part. I think I’m going to really embrace the moment and I’m going to play at least to the best of my abilities.”