NEW YORK, Sept 6: Naomi Osaka became the first Japanese woman in 22 years to reach the semifinals 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 wasn�t born when compatriot Kimiko Date made the Wimbledon semifinals in 1996 but now the 20-year-old has the opportunity to go one better by reaching a maiden Grand Slam final.
Later on Wednesday, Osaka was joined in the record books by compatriot Kei Nishikori who reached his third semifinal at the US Open.
It�s the first time that a Japanese man and woman have made the semifinal 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 this 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.� Osaka, the daughter of a Japanese mother and Haitian father, said she enjoyed playing in the blistering heat of New York which has been such a talking point of the tournament. � AFP