US Open: Naomi Osaka drops two games to clinch first-ever Grand Slam semifinal berth

The Japanese number one and 20th seed was ruthless en route to becoming the first Japanese woman to reach a singles semifinal of a major since 1996.

Naomi Osaka
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Lesia Tsurenko

Two first-time Grand Slam quarterfinalists took to the court as one of them looked to earn their spot in a Grand Slam semifinal. It was the young Japanese star Naomi Osaka against the Ukrainian veteran Lesia Tsurenko.

The 20-year-old played solid throughout the whole match in this US Open quarterfinal, but Tsurenko was just not herself after hitting so many unforced errors and struggling physically. Osaka became the first Japanese woman to reach a Grand Slam singles semifinal since 1996 when Kimiko Date-Krumm reached the last four of Wimbledon. 

She will now face the winner of Madison Keys and Carla Suarez Navarro's match which will take place tonight. 

Osaka In Early Control

Something Osaka talked about that Sascha Bajin has really helped her with is just picking and choosing her spots when to go for her shots. The 20-year-old did say that sometimes she fights herself when she's given opportunities to pull her trigger such as second serves. 

The Japanese number one was just consistent in that opening return game as Tsurenko sent some balls flying to give Osaka the break which quickly turned into a 3-0 lead. The 29-year-old Ukrainian got on the board after holding a few game points. 

Whether it was fatigue or just nerves, Tsurenko just could not find her rhythm as she was broken again to give Osaka a double break lead. The 20th seed did not look overwhelmed on the big stage in Arthur Ashe Stadium, taking the opening set 6-1 in 25 minutes. 

Tsurenko was struggling early on in this match (Elsa/Getty Images)
Tsurenko was struggling early on in this match (Elsa/Getty Images)

Osaka Asserts Her Dominance

What looked to be a straightforward hold for Tsurenko to start the second set at 40-0 up as the unforced errors began to balloon for the Ukrainian. Another break of serve went the way of Osaka as she the 20-year-old looked well on her way to a spot in the semifinals, breaking once again for a 3-0 lead. 

Tsurenko finally held to get on the board for 1-4 and began to apply the pressure on Osaka's serve for the first time after getting up 0-30. The Ukrainian found the corner with a backhand winner to set up triple break point. 

The first service game of Tsurenko, she was up 40-0 and lost the lead, now she lost a 0-40 lead in the sixth game as we heard Osaka's first, "Come ons" of the match to hold for 5-1. The Japanese number one broke to end the match as more unforced errors closed out a dominant performance from Osaka.