Did you see this?
Kei Nishikori rallied to outlast Marin Cilic on Wednesday at the U.S. Open, giving Japan a men’s and women’s semifinalist at the same Grand Slam for the first time, according to the ATP Tour. I did not think I would ever see this!
Nishikori won the rematch of the 2014 final with a 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-4 victory in a match that lasted 4 hours, 8 minutes. I watched part of it, very painful!
In the match before Nishikori’s, Naomi Osaka moved into her first Grand Slam semifinal by routing Lesia Tsurenko 6-1, 6-1. She is the one with the big hair.
Only once in the professional era that began in 1968 had Japan had a men’s and women’s player in the quarterfinals at the same tournament. That was at Wimbledon in 1995, and both Shuzo Matsuoka and Kimiko Date lost in that round.
Back in 1975, a friend, Ann Kiyomura won the Wimbledon doubles with a Japanese player, Kazuko Sawamatsu. Her tennis had some crude beginnings. People complained when her mother was hitting tennis balls during Relocation Camp. She was hitting tennis balls against the side of the tar paper barracks where Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War 2. Little did anyone know…….
But fast forward back to today. Having two Japanese in the semi finals of the U.S. Open is next to impossible, given the amount of funding provided to the European youngsters. Nishikori is the only Japanese player ever to be ranked in the top 5 in the world rankings. He beat Marin Cilic in 5 long sets. He will either play the Joker, Novak Djokovic, or unseeded John Millman, who beat The Fed.
Naomi Osaka has reached No. 17 in the world women’s rankings. In case you are wondering, her father is Haitian. She is a dual citizen of both the U.S. and Japan. She beat Lesia Tsurenko in the quarter finals. She will play the 2017 US Open runner up, Madison Keys in the semis.
Kind of makes me want to play tennis again? NO!!! But I did go to the U.S. Open back in 1982. It was not nearly the spectacle it is today. But it was still the biggest tennis show on earth, at the time. In 1982, Jimmy Connors beat Lendl in the finals. And Chrissie Evert beat Hana Mandlikova in the women’s finals. Do you realize that was 36 years ago????
It seems like yesterday.
NOTE: Osaka beat Serena in the Women’s Finals, while Nishikori lost to Djoker in the Semis.