Fourth seed Naomi Osaka overcame unseeded Shelby Rogers in straight sets to reach the US Open semi-finals on Tuesday and declared it “revenge” for earlier defeats.
The Japanese 2018 US Open champion brushed aside the 27-year-old American 6-3, 6-4, in 1hr 20min inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Osaka, 22, will play 28th-seeded American Jennifer Brady on Thursday for a place in the final.
Despite going into the last-eight match as favorite, the world number 9 Osaka said she was apprehensive about playing the 93rd-ranked Rogers because she had failed to beat her in three previous outings.
“Honestly, I just felt like she had the upper hand because I’ve never beaten her,” Osaka said.
“And those memories are stuck in my head so I consider this a little bit of revenge,” she added.
Osaka said a defeat to Rogers in 2017 on clay in Charleston had left “a really bad aftertaste in my mouth.”
“I’m really glad I was able to have a much better positive attitude today,” she explained.
Brady, 25, earlier ousted 23rd seed Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan 6-3, 6-2.
Osaka, of Haitian and Japanese heritage, walked onto the court wearing a facemask emblazoned with the name of George Floyd, the unarmed black man whose death in police custody in May sparked nationwide protests.
The 2019 Australian Open champion is wearing different masks honoring victims of racial injustice and police brutality throughout the tournament.
She has already donned face coverings bearing the names of Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, and Trayvon Martin.
After her match, Osaka was shown video messages from Martin’s mother and Arbery’s father in which they thanked her for her support.
“I was just trying really hard not to cry,” Osaka said when asked about how she felt while watching the videos.
“It’s extremely touching that they would feel touched by what I’m doing. For me, I feel like what I’m doing is nothing. It’s a speck of what I could be doing,” she added.
Osaka later tweeted that she wept after watching the clips again.
“I often wonder if what I’m doing is resonating and reaching as many people as I hope. That being said, I tried to hold it in onset but after watching these back I cried so much.
“The strength and the character both of these parents have is beyond me,” she wrote.