Kei Nishikori of Japan reacts after defeating Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany during the eighth day of the US Open. Photo: Corey Sipkin/EPA
Kei Nishikori of Japan reacts after defeating Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany during the eighth day of the US Open. Photo: Corey Sipkin/EPA
Naomi Osaka of Japan hits a return to Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus during the eighth day of the US Open. Photo: Corey Sipkin/EPA
Naomi Osaka of Japan hits a return to Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus during the eighth day of the US Open. Photo: Corey Sipkin/EPA

NEW YORK – Kei 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."

Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany (left) congratulates Kei Nishikori at the net after their match during the eighth day of the US Open. Photo: John G. Mabanglo/EPA
Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany (left) congratulates Kei Nishikori at the net after their match during the eighth day of the US Open. Photo: John G. Mabanglo/EPA

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.

Agence France-Presse (AFP)