Naomi Osaka has managed to register her first ever grand slam semi final after putting up a masterful performance in a space of 57 minutes against Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko 6-1, 6-1
It was the third match this fortnight that Osaka has won in less than an hour and followed on from her battling victory over fellow young gun Aryna Sabalenka, which left her in tears.
Osaka said: “It means a lot but I was much more emotional for the quarters. And now I feel like it’s sort of business again.”
“Quarters was my mental goal, every time I played a grand slam. And then after I went into the quarters, I want to keep going, so I feel like I have to be focused again and keep trying really hard.”
She said: “I think winning in Indian Wells helped me a lot, because now I feel like the state of mind that I have here is, I don’t feel pressure. I feel a little bit like I’m used to it.”
“Every young person playing, they want to win grand slams and they want to be number one, so of course that’s my goal.”
“I know I’m in a position that I can possibly do that, but I want to really think that I’m grateful to be in the position that I am in the first place. I know that the players that are at this final stages of the tournament, they’re really good. I know that everyone wants to win this tournament.”
Osaka represents Japan and was born in Tokyo to a Japanese mother and Haitian father but the family moved to New York aged three before relocating to Florida five years later.
She came to the US Open as a child, and Osaka said: “I always thought if I were to win a grand slam, the first one I’d want to win is the US Open, because I have grown up here and then my grandparents can come and watch. I think it would be really cool.”
Osaka is the first Japanese woman to reach a slam semi-final since Kimiko Date at Wimbledon in 1996 and is looking to become the first Japanese singles player to win a grand slam.
Her leap forward this year has come under the guidance of Sascha Bajin, who previously worked as a hitting partner for Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki.
Osaka has talked about the positive effect Bajin has had on her game and her mindset, and the 33-year-old sees similarities in the games of his current and former charges – if not yet the approach.
Bajin said: “I’m working very hard, and we are all in the team, to make sure that Naomi one day might own the court like Serena. I really, really, really hope she makes it to the final here and I hope that we do, too. That would be beautiful.”
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Author: Moses Echodu
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