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All you need to know about US Open star Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka - cropped

New York, Sep 6: Naomi Osaka stands on the brink of reaching her first grand slam final following a series of superb performances at the US Open.

The 20-year-old Japanese - long viewed as a star of the future - made a spectacular breakthrough on the WTA Tour in March, winning the Indian Wells Masters before beating her childhood idol, Serena Williams, in Miami the following week.

Osaka is now making waves at the very highest level, having never previously made it past round four of a slam before this week, and could yet face Williams in the women's singles final at Flushing Meadows.

Ahead of Osaka's last-four match against Madison Keys on Thursday, here is all you need to know about arguably the most exciting young talent in the women's game.

- Osaka was born on October 16, 1997, in the city of Osaka on the Japanese island of Honshu. Her mother is Japanese, her father is Haitian and she moved to the United States as a three-year-old.

- An aggressive baseliner with a strong forehand and powerful serve, her current world ranking is 19. She could break into the top 10 for the first time by winning the title in New York.

- Her idol is Serena Williams, a point she has repeatedly reinforced at Flushing Meadows. On Monday, she said: "It's no secret that Serena is my favourite. I've watched all of her matches in the US Open this year. I'm just really grateful that she's playing again. I'm grateful that I got the opportunity to play her in Miami. I hope I can play her here."

- She made her WTA Tour debut at the 2014 Bank of West Classic in Stanford. Osaka beat Sam Stosur in the first round before losing to Andrea Petkovic.

- In January 2016, Osaka appeared in the main draw of a grand slam for the first time at the Australian Open. She reached the third round before losing to Victoria Azarenka.

- After reaching one final and four quarter-finals, as well as making third-round appearances at three grand slams, Osaka was named 2016 WTA Newcomer of the Year.

- The 2018 Australian Open saw Osaka reach the fourth round of a grand slam for the first time.

- At Indian Wells in March, the youngster claimed her first WTA Tour crown. Victory over Serena in Miami the following week meant she had beaten four current or former WTA number ones in eight matches - Maria Sharapova, Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep and Williams.

- She is coached by Sascha Bajin, who previously worked as Williams' hitting partner for several years.

- Osaka has broken new ground in New York, reaching her first slam quarter-final and then beating Lesia Tsurenko 6-1 6-1 to make the last four. She has lost only one set in the tournament and did not drop a single game in her third-round win over Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

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Story first published: Thursday, September 6, 2018, 16:10 [IST]
Other articles published on Sep 6, 2018
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