She dug her way out the first two deficits with aggressive, gutsy play, but in the final game, serving to stay in the match, she couldn't pull it off. Sabalenka double-faulted on Osaka's fourth match point, handing the Japanese player the win.
Osaka had reached the Australian Open last-16 in January in her previous best run at the majors.
Naomi Osaka became the first Japanese woman in 22 years to reach the semi-finals 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.
Cilic won the 2014 match-up in straight sets but this encounter resembled their 2010 second-round match in Flushing Meadows, when Nishikori rallied for a five- set victory in four hours, 59 minutes - the fifth-longest men's singles match by time in U.S. Open history. "Especially after coming from injury", he said, "I think I'm enjoying this challenge". The Belarusian knew she had to win this but just couldn't handle the Osaka's court strategies. I train in Florida.
Both players hit comfortably more unforced errors than winners with Cilic making 70 unforced errors to 57 winners and Nishikori 45 to 29. Cilic started well, taking the opening set and going up a break in the second. So I thought it was something really wonderful. "That's something that is a really good trait, and I'm really happy that my grandparents and my dad's side of the family is like that", Osaka said. This is her first career Grand Slam semifinal in what's been a year of firsts for her so far.
Suarez Navarro has now lost all seven Grand Slam quarter-finals she has contested. She is now based in Florida, trains with Bajin at Evert's academy in Boca Raton, and made the decision to play for Japan largely because of financial reasons - the Japanese federation offered more support money than the U.S. Tennis Association. "It's just there's a lot of energy - and then you come back to the hotel very angry because everyone just makes you angry. like, 'Oh, why are these people walking so slow?'"
But Tsurenko said she was sick Wednesday, waking up with a sore throat and not breathing well.
Since losing to Cilic in the final back in 2014, this was their first meeting at Flushing Meadows and Nishikori triumphed to make it back-to-back semi-finals for him in NY.