Fernandez Defeats Sabalenka to Reach US Open Final

by | Sep 10, 2021 | Sports | 0 comments

Leylah Fernandez – Photo Credit: Flickr

Leylah Fernandez of Canada advanced to her first Grand Slam final on Thursday by defeating world number two Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus in the US Open semi-finals.

The teenager eliminated Wimbledon semi-finalist Sabalenka 7-6 (7/3), 4-6, 6-4 and could capture her first Slam crown at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“I don’t know how I got that last point in but I’m glad it was and I’m glad I’m in the finals,” the 19-year old said.

Fernandez, a 73rd-ranked left-hander, made Sabalenka her third top-five victim of the Open. She also earlier ousted defending champion Naomi Osaka and fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina.

Not since Serena Williams in 2012 at Wimbledon had a player beaten three rivals ranked in the top five at a Grand Slam.

Sabalenka broke in the second game of the match on a forehand volley winner and dominated early with power shots. However, Fernandez found her form and broke back to 4-3 on a Sabalenka double fault. The duo held into a tie-breaker.

The 23-year old netted a forehand with a wide-open court to hand Fernandez a 3-2 edge. The Canadian teen never trailed after that, winning the last four points to claim the first set in 53 minutes.

“That’s years and years of work and tears and blood and sacrifice,” said Fernandez of her mental toughness. She blasted a service winner to lead 4-3 and saw Sabalenka mis-hit an overhead smash wide and double fault. Fernandez then fired another service winner for the set. 

“I have no idea how I won,” said Fernandez. “I’d say it’s thanks to the New York crowd. They helped me. They cheered for me. They never gave up.”