Less than per week in the past, few informal tennis followers knew even slightly, if something, about Leylah Fernandez. When she shocked Naomi Osaka within the third spherical of the U.S. Open, many had been extra centered on the participant who misplaced than on the participant who received.
Those similar folks questioned if the precocious teenager from Canada had benefited from Osaka’s poor type that evening.
But after storming again to beat the extra reliable and in-form Angelique Kerber within the fourth spherical on Sunday, Fernandez — together with her pure exuberance, ubiquitous smile and fist raised excessive within the air — has develop into the feeling of the this 12 months’s Open.
“I think she can go really far in the next few years,” Kerber stated after the match.
There is an opportunity she might go actually far in simply the following few days. Fernandez is enjoying the perfect tennis of her younger profession, blasting forehand winners and exuding the form of joyous combating spirit and confidence that has captivated New York followers throughout a wild three-day run.
With a raucous crowd packed into Louis Armstrong Stadium chanting her title, Fernandez misplaced the primary set on Sunday and was down a service break within the second earlier than she outlasted Kerber, Four-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2, lower than 12 hours earlier than turning 19.
She was delighted. She was proud. She raised her arms within the air and flashed her magnetic smile. But don’t assume that she is shocked by her personal success, even when the remainder of the tennis world is.
“I expected that one day my tennis game is going to come through and that I’m going to be on the big stage in front of a big crowd playing against big players, and also getting the wins,” she stated. “I’m not surprised of anything that’s happening right now.”
Fernandez, the newest Canadian to burst onto the scene, stated she would rejoice her win together with her household and her health coach, Duglas Cordero, on the similar Italian restaurant they’ve dined at each evening of the match. Her birthday celebration on Monday will embrace a third-round doubles match alongside Erin Routliffe of New Zealand.
But whereas she appears forward, Fernandez may also mirror on this: While she was nonetheless simply 18, she took down Osaka, the No. Three seed and defending champion, and Kerber, the No. 16 seed and 2016 U.S. Open champion, all in lower than 48 hours. Together, these two champions personal seven main titles (Osaka has 4), however for the left-handed Fernandez, they had been simply two gamers who required distinctive tactical approaches.
“The biggest difference is that one is a left-hander, and the other one is a right-handed player,” she stated. “I just approached the matches the same.”
Now she should toggle again to one other right-hander. Fernandez’s opponent within the quarterfinal stage is No. 5 Elina Svitolina, who had no hassle dispatching No. 12 Simona Halep, 6-Three, 6-Three, in 76 minutes in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday.
Fernandez, who was born and grew up in Montreal, grew to become the primary Canadian into the quarterfinal stage this 12 months. No. 6 Bianca Andreescu, from Toronto and the 2019 champion, will play No. 17 Maria Sakkari of Greece within the fourth spherical Monday evening.
But even because the stakes steadily improve, Fernandez has proven no worry on courtroom throughout her march into the second week of what’s arguably the most important tennis match of all of them. Perhaps it’s as a result of she is just too younger to know any higher.
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“I remember the feeling really well,” Kerber, 33, stated. “I mean, yeah, it’s a few years ago. But of course, she has no pressure.”
Though she misplaced, Angelique Kerber heaped reward on Fernandez after the match.Credit…Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports, by way of Reuters
Trailing by a set and down a break within the second, Fernandez flipped the momentum of the match on its head when she broke again to make it Four-Four, taking the ball out of the air and ripping a backhand cross-court winner. Up went her fist and the followers erupted.
In the tiebreaker, Fernandez went forward 5-1 and the followers, who had been streaming into the stadium as phrase unfold that she was placing up one other good combat, started chanting, “Let’s Go Ley-lah,” as if she had been De-rek Je-ter.
Kerber fought again to make it 5-Four, however then Fernandez reached for a Kerber serve out vast and ripped a forehand winner down the road from outdoors the courtroom again into it — a shot so exact, so highly effective and so daring that it elicited a racket clap of appreciation from Kerber.
Two factors later, Fernandez compelled Kerber up to now vast that she couldn’t get the ball again safely into the courtroom. Again, Fernandez’s arms went up in celebration and the followers roared their approval. Fernandez carried the momentum into the third set, the place she completed the job.
When she received the ultimate level, the viewers exploded and jumped to their ft as one with a deafening cheer for his or her newly-adopted favourite younger star-in-the-making.
“I was just enjoying every moment of it,” Fernandez stated. “Honestly, the crowd has been amazing, so thanks to them I was able to win.”
But she isn’t the one teenager making a mark at this 12 months’s occasion. Carlos Alcaraz of Spain, 18, upset No. Three Stefanos Tsitsipas after which beat Germany’s Peter Gojowczyk, 5-7, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 6-Zero, on Sunday to attain a quarterfinal. Also, the British 18-year-old Emma Raducanu will play Shelby Rogers within the fourth spherical on Monday.
Fernandez stated she remembered the primary time she noticed Alcaraz within the junior circuit and thought she was watching the reincarnation of a right-handed Rafael Nadal.
“Seeing all these teenagers, these youngsters doing so great at the U.S. Open and the other tournaments, too, is eye-opening,” she stated.
She referred to as herself a “happy-go-lucky” child who has all the time discovered pleasure in no matter she does. The followers have fed off that power, and he or she has fed off theirs. Perhaps someday, after a few years on the tour, when she is 33 like Kerber, she is going to lose a few of her youthful glee.
What Fernandez enjoys now’s a particular, singular feeling, one which Kerber remembers properly, and stated is nearly unimaginable to recapture.
“I think it’s just for young people,” Kerber stated.