NEW YORK (AFP) – Japan’s Naomi Osaka sailed into the semi-finals of the US Open on Tuesday night as Alexander Zverev of Germany booked his spot in the last four of the men’s draw.
Osaka, the tournament’s fourth seed, swept aside unseeded Shelby Rogers in straight sets to set up a match with Jennifer Brady for a place in Saturday’s final.
The 22-year-old Osaka required just one hour and 20 minutes inside an empty Arthur Ashe Stadium to defeat the 27-year-old Rogers 6-3, 6-4.
Osaka, the world number 9, said her victory was payback for three previous defeats to the 93rd-ranked Rogers.
They included a 2017 loss on clay in Charleston that Osaka said had left “a really bad aftertaste in my mouth”.
“Honestly, I just felt like she had the upper hand because I’ve never beaten her,” Osaka said. “And those memories are stuck in my head so I consider this a little bit of revenge,” she added.
Osaka’s dominant service game contributed to a comfortable runout for the 2018 US Open champion.
She won 83 per cent of points on her first serve and 70 per cent on her second.
In contrast, Rogers managed only 66 per cent and 33 per cent respectively. Rogers hit 29 unforced errors compared to just eight committed by Osaka.
Brady conquered some serious nerves to defeat Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva and reach the semi-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time.
The American 28th seed needed just one hour and nine minutes to blow away her 23rd-seeded opponent 6-3, 6-2.
“Coming into the match today, honestly I was feeling like I was going to poop my pants. I was very nervous,” said the 25-year-old Brady.
“I just tried to really stay calm and keep it cool as a cucumber out there,” she added.
Brady is yet to drop a set and has lost only 24 games during her march to the semis, the fewest of anyone left in the draw.
Osaka said Brady would be a formidable opponent. “I think she’s a really amazing player she has the variety that I wish I had, so I’m a bit jealous,” said the Japanese.
Zverev bounced back from a shocking start to oust 27th-seeded Croatian Borna Coric in four sets. The 23-year-old German prevailed 1-6, 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/1), 6-3 in three hours and 25 minutes.
He began playing more aggressively after finding himself a set down, and 4-2 behind in the second set.
“I thought to myself I’m down 6-1, 4-2, I have nothing to lose at the moment,” Zverev.
The German will play Spain’s 20th seed Pablo Carreno Busta for a place in Sunday’s final.
The Spaniard defeated 12th-seeded Canadian Denis Shapovalov 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/4), 0-6, 6-3 in an epic five-setter that ended in the early hours yesterday.