Naomi Osaka, whose father is Haitian, is the first Japanese woman since the start of the Open era to reach the U.S. Open semifinals and the first to reach any Grand Slam semifinal since Kimiko Date did it in 1996. Osaka routed Lesia Tsurenko 6-1, 6-1 in just 57 minutes, the third time in her five matches in the tournament that she finished in less than an hour.
She raced to a 3-0 lead in the first set and then 4-0 in the second, never giving the shaky Tsurenko a chance to get into her first major quarterfinal.
But after reaching the final in Monte Carlo, the French Open fourth round and the Wimbledon quarter-finals, Nishikori believes an elusive first grand slam is within reach.
For Osaka, her victory is the latest milestone in a watershed year for the 20-year-old who won her first WTA Tour title in Indian Wells, Calif., in March.
Keys, the runner-up to Sloane Stephens past year, took her record over Suarez Navarro to 4-0 thanks to a break in the ninth game of the first set and sixth of the second. On Osaka's first match point, she hammered a return at her opponent's feet, and Tsurenko could do little more than send her response into the bottom of the net. "Especially after coming from injury", he said, "I think I'm enjoying this challenge".
Osaka broke in the second and sixth games of the opening set which was wrapped up in just 24 minutes.
The Californian has dropped just a single set so far at the 2018 edition of the U.S. slam, to Aleksandra Krunic in the third round, and has a 2-0 edge against her upcoming Japanese opponent.
"I don't really feel pressure from them", Osaka said. I was up and he came back.
But Tsurenko said she was sick Wednesday, waking up with a sore throat and not breathing well. "I was not feeling well", she said.
Osaka quelled nerves in her quarterfinal appearance to put in an assured performance, only dropping a handful of points on her serve. The second set was taking on a new meaning where the Japanese started off aggressive and earning points, but then Sabalenka chose to correct mistakes she'd made on the first one.
The crisis soon deepened for Tsurenko, who had needed the best part of three hours on Monday to beat Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova in a match where she nearly collapsed due to heat exhaustion.