In doing so, he made history along with his compatriot Naomi Osaka, following her 6-1 6-1 win over Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko, as they became the first Japanese man and woman to reach the semi-finals of a major for the first time in the Open Era. In her third-round match, she was even quicker, dominating Aliaksandra Sasnovich, 6-0, 6-0, in 50 minutes.
Nishikori got the early break in the fifth set and led by 4-1 but Cilic got back on serve at 4-5.
"I always thought if I were to win a Grand Slam, the first one I'd want to win is the US Open", she mused.
For Osaka, her victory is the latest milestone in a watershed year for the 20-year-old who won her first WTA Tour title in Indian Wells, Calif., in March.
"To break in both sets, having solid games there, was really important tonight", Keys said in her on-court post-match interview.
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On Wednesday, Osaka only needed 12 winners because a whopping 31 of her other points came via unforced errors by Tsurenko.
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.
"I think she can, you know, win a title now, even (a) Grand Slam". I was up and he came back.
She won 59 points to just 28 for the unseeded Ukrainian, who knocked off No. 2 seed Caroline Wozniacki in the second round.
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Keys won all 10 of her service games, saving the only two break points she faced.
"Unfortunately during this tournament I had many issues with my health, and today was not my day obviously".
Tsurenko didn't appear bothered by the conditions, but whether it was her health or just first-time jitters, she was off from the minute she stepped onto Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Tsurenko had dealt with heat issues in the fourth round, when her opponent accused her of acting, and said after her lopsided loss to Osaka that she was dealing with a sore throat and problems breathing. "That's something that is a really good trait, and I'm really happy that my grandparents and my dad's side of the family is like that", Osaka said.
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He said the United States would have to give six months notice to both Canada and Mexico if it intends to withdraw. Kansas exports totaled more than $11 billion in 2017 , led by agricultural products, aircraft and airplane parts.