Naomi Osaka Loses to Leylah Fernandez at the U.S. Open

Naomi Osaka, the defending girls’s singles champion, was upset, 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-Four, in the third spherical of the U.S. Open on Friday evening by Leylah Annie Fernandez, an unseeded 18-year-old from Canada.

During her post-match information convention Osaka was in tears.

“I honestly don’t know when I’m going to play my next tennis match,” she stated. “I think I’m going to take a break from playing for a while.”

She flashed two thumbs up and left the room crying.

The 73rd-ranked Fernandez, a fast and dynamic left-hander, had by no means confronted Osaka, however she didn’t seem intimidated, clenching her fist after successful key factors and sometimes dictating play together with her topspin forehand.

It was a memorable night for youngsters in Arthur Ashe Stadium. In the previous match, Carlos Alcaraz, a dynamic Spanish 18-year-old, eradicated the No. three males’s seed, Stefanos Tsitsipas, in a momentum-shifting thriller that got here down to a fifth-set tiebreaker. That was the closing match of the day session, and when the area had been cleared and the night-session crowd had taken their seats, Fernandez adopted Alcaraz’s lead, rallying to defeat the third-seeded Osaka.

The upset got here on the identical court docket the place Osaka had turn into a world star by stunning Serena Williams to win the 2018 U.S. Open. Osaka has since received three extra Grand Slam singles titles, together with one at final yr’s Open.

Fernandez had by no means confronted Osaka however didn’t seem intimidated.Credit…Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times

Osaka broke Fernandez’s serve at 5-5 in the second set with a backhand winner after which served for the match. She had not confronted even a break level at that stage however was unable to shut out the victory. Fernandez went on to win the first 5 factors of the ensuing tiebreaker, prompting Osaka to hurl her racket to the court docket. Fernandez then evened the match at one set apiece.

“I guess I wanted to stay on the court a little bit longer, and I wanted to put on a show for everybody here,” Fernandez stated in her post-match interview. “One hour was just not enough for me on court.”

Fernandez shortly took the lead in the third set by breaking Osaka’s serve once more in the opening sport, and although Osaka started to discover her vary in her personal service video games, she couldn’t clear up Fernandez’s slower left-handed serve.

Osaka didn’t cover her frustration. After Fernandez hit a net-cord winner in the second sport of the closing set to go up, 40-15, Osaka took maintain of the ball and smacked it excessive into the stands, receiving a code violation for ball abuse.

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Fernandez would face no break factors on her serve in the closing set, and when it got here time to serve for the most vital victory of her profession, she held at love. At 30-Zero, she hit a terrific backhand drop-shot winner, and on her first match level, Osaka misjudged a forehand and hit it vast.

Osaka appeared to be annoyed in the closing set, hitting a ball excessive into the stands.Credit…Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times

Arms up and smiling, Fernandez jogged ahead to the web for the handshake.

“From the very beginning, right before the match, I knew I was able to win,” she stated.

Fernandez’s victory was the first main upset of the U.S. Open girls’s event, which, regardless of the depth of expertise in the girls’s sport, had largely revered the seedings in the first two rounds. But Friday’s outcome was the newest setback for Osaka, the greatest star in the girls’s sport after Serena Williams. Since successful the Australian Open in February, she has performed sparingly and has not received one other title and even reached one other semifinal.

Osaka withdrew from the French Open after successful one spherical after she was fined for declining to participate in the obligatory post-match information convention. Later she defined in a submit on social media that she had skilled melancholy since successful the 2018 U.S. Open and had usually discovered it troublesome to face the information media. She returned to her dwelling in Los Angeles and determined to skip Wimbledon however returned to compete at the Tokyo Olympics, the place she turned the first tennis participant to gentle the Olympic cauldron however misplaced in the third spherical to Marketa Vondrousova.

Fernadez’s mother and father, left, after the upset.Credit…Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times

She was overwhelmed in the spherical of 16 of the WTA 1000 occasion in Cincinnati by Jil Teichmann in her solely North American event earlier than this yr’s Open. After defeating Maria Bouzkova in straight units in the first spherical in New York, she obtained a walkover in the second spherical when Olga Danilova withdrew due to sickness.

But due to her lack of latest match play, the sudden break didn’t prove to be a bonus. Fernandez, brimming with power, was ready to capitalize.