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Nishikori, Osaka end Japan’s 23-year wait for Slam double

Trailblazer: Kei Nishikori on his way to victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber © AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY

NEW YORK, United States, Sep 4Kei Nishikori and Naomi Osaka carved out a little bit of history at the US Open on Monday when they became the first Japanese players in 23 years to reach the quarter-finals of the same Grand Slam.

Nishikori, the 2014 runner-up, downed German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 while Osaka reached a first last-eight at a major with a 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 victory against Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

The last Japanese duo to make the quarters at the same Slam were Shuzo Matsuoka and Kimiko Date at Wimbledon in 1995.

“Seeing Kei do really well in Wimbledon, that really inspired me,” said Osaka of her compatriot’s achievement of being the first Japanese man in 23 years to get to the Wimbledon last-eight in July.

“I always thought if I can keep up with him, that would be really cool. So yeah, I’m glad I was able to be a part of something like that today.”

Nishikori has been a long-time — if lonely — trailblazer for Japanese tennis.

He has made the quarter-finals at the Australian Open (2012, 2015 and 2016), Roland Garros (2015 and 2017), Wimbledon this year and was a semi-finalist in New York in 2016, two years after losing the final to Marin Cilic.

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