Keys returns to U.S. Open semifinals

Novak Djokovic Marin Cilic Kei Nishikori Madison Keys are quarterfinal headliners

Kei Nishikori defeated the 2014 US Open Champion Marin Cilic in the quarter-finals. But then he faltered and they went to a tiebreaker, where Cilic led 4-3 before delivering two double-faults in a row.

Djokovic, the victor in 2011 and 2015, faces Kei Nishikori in Friday's semi-finals, his 11th successive appearance in the last-four.

The Croatian has built on that success, reaching two more finals in the last two seasons, but Nishikori's only similar run came in NY two years ago when he defeated Andy Murray to reach the semi-finals before losing to Stan Wawrinka.

It was already 85 degrees (29.4 Celsius) outside of Arthur Ashe Stadium about a half hour before the opening quarterfinal match between No. 20 seed Naomi Osaka of Japan and Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine.

The defending champion and No. 1 seed at Flushing Meadows recovered from his disastrous start and other stumbles along the way to beat No. 9 Dominic Thiem 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5) for a semifinal berth at a third consecutive Grand Slam tournament, winning a physical, back-and-forth tussle that concluded after 2 a.m. on Wednesday.

"I've gotten a lot better managing my emotions once it gets to this part and knowing that everything is going to be probably more amped up", she said. "It wasn't easy and I didn't feel like I was playing my best tennis today, but I fought through somehow and it gives me big confidence".

To get to Saturday's championship match, 20th seed Osaka will have to get past U.S. 14th seed Madison Keys who breezed past Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro 6-4, 6-3.

Novak Djokovic beat Kei Nishikori on Friday night to advance to his eighth US Open men's final.

Together, Osaka and Nishikori were the first Japanese woman and man to make the quarter-finals of the same Grand Slam since Date and Shuzo Matsuoka at Wimbledon in 1995.

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Then late in the third, Djokovic pushed the serve clock to zero, and the second time John McEnroe quipped he did it on goal which drew a fault penalty and eventually he lost his break lead.

It all took less than 90 minutes against Suarez Navarro, who eliminated five-time major champion Maria Sharapova in straight sets in her previous match but has never made it to the semifinals at a major.

Nishikori, who missed last year's US Open after a season-ending wrist injury, joined compatriot Naomi Osaka in reaching the semis - the first time that a Japanese man and woman have reached the last four in the same Grand Slam. It's one of the first times it's happened to me.

"I hate matches like this", Tsurenko said.

This night was cooler, as the temperature dipped, but the humidity was above 80 percent, so with Millman drenched, he sought permission for a wardrobe change at 2-2 in the second set.

"I was struggling, he was struggling", Djokovic added. "Just trying to hang in there, find a way to win a match".

Djokovic's momentum only grew as he took the early break once again. He was able to come through on only four of his 20 break points.

The tide continued to turn in the third as Nishikori chipped away at the faltering Cilic with a third successive break.

Two inexplicable double-faults as the Japanese altered his return positions handed Nishikori the initiative and he produced a sumptuous backhand return victor down the line on set point to deepening Cilic's misery. Millman said, "He makes you work hard for every point and it's relentless".

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