She was quickly down two more breaks at 4-0 before squandering three break points in the sixth game as Osaka glided into a maiden semi-final at the Slams.
Sevastova, meanwhile, had never been beyond the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam before this year's US Open and indeed had reached that stage only once. Keys also lost to Stephens in the French Open semifinals this June.
Having said this, not only will Osaka need to overcome nerves potentially, but she'll also have to get her first win over Keys in her fourth head to head meeting.
As the lingering jitters that have dogged Serena Williams at various points of her otherwise impressive comeback fade, she is re-establishing the aura that has already put her one clear of Steffi Graf's 22 grand-slam titles and one short of the all-time record set by Margaret Court.
"Just like my entire body was shaking, so I'm really glad I was able to play well today", she said.
With Nishikori playing immediately after Naomi Osaka on Wednesday, the U.S. Open became must-see viewing for Japanese tennis fans.
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Suarez Navarro enjoyed a fine run in NY, where she upstaged sixth seed Caroline Garcia and ended Maria Sharapova's impeccable record under the lights in the Big Apple, however, the 30th seed could not match Keys. The flag next to her name displayed on monitors throughout Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is Japan's - her mother's homeland, the country of her birth and the country she represents in competition. At her second major back, Wimbledon, she was the runner-up.
It was another hot afternoon Wednesday, with temperatures in the high-80s (30s Celsius) but feeling some 10 degrees hotter with the humidity.
He is into his third major semifinal, all in NY but is still in search of his initially Slam trophy. I actually had several situations like this, I mean, throughout my Grand Slam career where I was tested earlier.
She pushed some balls a few feet past the baseline, often failing to make Osaka do anything special to win a point and finishing with 31 unforced errors.
In New York, members of the Japanese media fill her news conferences after every match.
Next up for Nishikori is a clash against either two-time champion and former world number one Novak Djokovic or John Millman, the Australian who stunned Roger Federer in the fourth round. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to play on this court.
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