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'Flawless' Naomi Osaka powers into US Open semi-finals while carrying social justice messages along the way

'Flawless' Naomi Osaka powers into US Open semi-finals while carrying social justice messages along the way
Naomi arrived at Flushing Meadows with seven face masks to highlight racial injustice and, given her stellar form at the US Open, there's a good chance she'll end up using them all.

Osaka blasted her way into the semi-finals of the women's draw with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over former nemesis Shelby Rogers at Arthur Ashe Stadium as she continued her impressive form in New York.

Osaka arrived on court wearing a mask bearing the name of George Floyd, the Black American who died in police custody back in May, sparking mass protests against police brutality against people of color in the United States.

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The 2018 US Open champion has two more masks in her bag for the semi-finals and final, and her form suggests she's in great shape to go all the way.

"I just have a feeling," she told ESPN, explaining how she decided which mask to wear.

"I feel like I'm a vessel in order to spread awareness."

While Osaka's face masks have led to plenty of attention for the young star, her performances have been every bit as headline-worthy, as she reached her third Grand Slam semi-final after a performance that saw her make just eight unforced errors against a player who she had never previously beaten.

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Rogers hailed Osaka's performance, saying, "She played pretty flawless. I think she can go a couple more (matches) if she wants.

"She's more confident in who she is, what her game is, how to play."

Despite being just 22 years of age, Osaka is already a two-time Grand Slam champion, having captured the US Open in 2018, then the Australian Open in 2019.

And after her quarter-final victory over Rogers, she admitted that she's used the enforced lockdown period to think about how she should approach her career once she got back up and running again. 

"Honestly, the whole of 2019 after I won Australia, I just put too much pressure on myself, I wasn't enjoying it," Osaka said.

"When I (lost) against Coco (Gauff) in Australia this year, I was just so stressed out. So I just thought to myself, I'm just going to take quarantine to mentally evaluate what I want to do when I come back."

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