– Leylah Fernandez may be a self-described “happy-go-lucky girl” having the time of her life at Flushing Meadows, raising her fists, pumping her arms, and riling up crowds while beating two past US Open champions to succeed in her first slam quarterfinal. A day before her 19th birthday, the unseeded left-hander from Canada grabbed the last five games to eliminate 2016 title winner Angelique Kerber 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2 on Sunday, demonstrating that an earlier upset of defending champion Naomi Osaka was certainly no fluke.
With grit and guile, plus a veteran’s poise within the face of massive deficits against far more accomplished opponents, Fernandez is displaying strokes and a demeanor that left Kerber offering this assessment: “She can go really far within the next few years.” How about over subsequent week? Ask Fernandez for the key to her success, and she or he repeatedly mentions two factors. One is being bound to enjoy her time on court. the opposite is the support of family, because her father, who is from Ecuador, her mother, who is Filipino Canadian, and her sisters “have definitely kept the enjoyment on behalf of me .”
She credits her father — who coaches her and has been offering instructions in daily phone calls while back home, taking care of a younger sibling — and her mother — who is leading the cheers with other relations and Fernandez’s fitness trainer in courtside seats — with teaching a valuable lesson that has nothing to try to to with tennis. They made bound to emphasize, Fernandez said, that “you can’t take things too seriously, you’ve to be mature but at an equivalent time just be a child, let loose, have fun, eat chocolate once you want to, and just celebrate, watch movies, go past your bedtime.”
Just as against Osaka in Ashe Stadium two nights earlier, Fernandez dropped the opening set against Kerber in Armstrong Stadium, which was so full that would-be spectators were being turned away at the doors. And even as against Osaka, Fernandez trailed within the second set: Kerber led by an opportunity at 4-2. Both times, the 73rd-ranked Fernandez managed to urge folks within the seats on her side, exulting with every of her on-the-run, impossible-angle groundstrokes that added up to a 45-28 edge up winners.
Fernandez redirects her opponent’s shots swiftly and seemingly with ease, sometimes dropping to a knee near the baseline to urge the right leverage. That’s a really similar style to each other lefty, Kerber, wont to reach No. 1 within the rankings and claim three slam titles. Kerber is 33 and has been playing tolerably lately to urge to the Wimbledon semifinals in July, but rather than that have to pay off, Fernandez figured the age difference worked in her favor because the contest stretched past two hours. “I was honestly tired within the third set,” Fernandez acknowledged. “But thereupon thought, I used to be telling myself, like, ‘If I’m tired, she must be exhausted.'”
Still, within the last set, Kerber held an opportunity point with an opportunity to travel up 3-1. Fernandez erased that chance with a cross-court forehand winner. Kerber wouldn’t claim another game. When it ended, Fernandez lifted her arms, then leaned forward to place her hands on her knees and smiled. She stood and patted her chest together with her palm, while Kerber walked round the net to supply a clasp of hands and an arm around Fernandez’s shoulders.
“I remember the sensation rather well,” Kerber said when asked about twiddling with the type of loose-grip freedom Fernandez displays. “I mean it’s [a] a few years ago. But in fact, I mean, she has no pressure.” Now Fernandez, who just one occasion had been as far because the third round at a serious tournament so far, will meet No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina within the quarterfinals. Another women’s matchup Tuesday is going to be No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka against 2021 French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova, who beat two-time slam champ Garbine Muguruza 6-3, 7-6 (4) after taking a late medical timeout and needing help to go away the court when the topsy-turvy match ended.
The eighth-seeded Krejcikova took a medical timeout while down 6-5 within the second set after saying she wanted to ascertain the trainer for what she told the chair umpire was a diaphragm issue. When play resumed after the break, Krejcikova won seven points in a row. She also angered the eighth-seeded Muguruza by taking her time between points down the stretch.