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Grand Slam: Japanese Athletes Kei Nishikori And Naomi Osaka At The US Open 2018

Someone should tell the Japanese Tennis players that this is the US Open, and if the home crowd had a say, they’d love to watch an All-American Women’s Final, just like they had last year between Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys. 

While Stephens crashed out in the Quarters the other day to Latvian Anastasija Sevastova, Keys plays in the semis against surprise package Japanese Naomi Osaka. Sevastova meets Serena Williams in the other half of the draw, and you know the hopes are for a Williams-Keys Final on Saturday. 




A post shared by Naomi Osaka ????? (@naomiosakatennis) on


Meanwhile, on the Men’s side of the Open, one semi will be a Latino affair, Spaniard Rafa Nadal versus Argentine Juan Martin Del Porto; and Kei Nishikori of Japan has Novak Djokovic of Serbia in his half of the draw. Admittedly, expectations for an American player to reach this stage are low; it was 15 years ago that Andy Roddick won the US Open, and it’s been a long drought since that time. 




?Very proud of today’s match. Was a huge battle! Go ????! ??

A post shared by Kei Nishikori (@keinishikori) on

The semis lineup is of note for Asians as it’s the first time that Japan has a man and woman at this stage of a single Grand Slam tournament. To find Osaka still standing tall is really an unexpected bonus, as the Japanese player (with a Haitian father and a Japanese mom) is ranked 17th in the world, and this ranking which was announced in June, is her highest yet. It’s the first time in 22 years that a Japanese woman has reached a Grand Slam Semi-Final.



As for Nishikori, he is by now a grizzled veteran of these tennis wars; but in some version of Sweet Revenge, it was Marin Cilic he eliminated in his Quarters, a five-set war of attrition—as it was Cilic who defeated Nishikori in the 2014 US Open Finals—which was back then, the first time either had reached a Grand Slam Final, and that’s been Nishikori’s only appearance in a GS Final. 

But of course, the match that has created the most buzz so far this US Open has been Nadal’s over four-hour, ending past 2 a.m. New York time, victory over Dominic Thiem in the quarters. After being bagel-ed 6-0 in the first set, Nadal displayed the kind of steely resolve that so few players show they can possess year in and out. And you could see it in his face, "Ok, so you got me 6 zip, but can you do it again, and are you going to win the match?" As Nadal has expressed in the past, analyzing his mental approach when on the ropes in a match, his opponent may end up winning the match, but Nadal is never going to just hand it to him, or give up.



@usopen Vamos!

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So when the smoke clears from the semi finals in both the women’s and men’s draw, let’s see if there will still be a Japanese player in both finals come this weekend.


Lead images from @naomiosakatennis and @keinishikori