Japan’s Naomi Osaka sailed into the semi-finals of the US Open on Tuesday 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 1hr 20 min 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 percent of points on her first serve and 70 percent on her second.
In contrast, Rogers managed only 66 percent and 33 percent 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 1hr 9 min 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.
– ‘Hungry’ –
The 23-year-old German prevailed 1-6, 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/1), 6-3 in 3hr 25min.
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 of Wednesday.
The disqualification of top seed Novak Djokovic on Sunday has blown the men’s competition at Flushing Meadows wide open.
His departure means the US Open will crown a first-time Grand Slam winner on Sunday.
“I know that all the young guys are hungry for it. It’s going to be interesting,” said Zverev, who will play either 12th-seeded Canadian Denis Shapovalov or Spain’s Pablo Carrena Busta in the last four.
Zverev, who is in his second-consecutive Grand Slam semi-final after reaching the last four at the Australian Open this year, said he was yet to kick into fifth gear.
“I feel like I can still improve a few more things and that only gives me confidence,” he told reporters.
On Wednesday, second seed Dominic Thiem faces Australian Alex de Minaur and third seed Daniil Medvedev plays compatriot Andrey Rublev for the other semi-final spot.
In the women’s draw, Serena Williams faces unseeded Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova and former world number one Victoria Azarenka takes on 16th seed Elise Mertens in the remaining quarter-finals.