Leylah Fernandez Defeats Aryna Sabalenka to Reach US Open Final

Leylah Fernandez’s teenage dream run continues at the US Open

The 19-year-old half-Ecuadorian Canadian tennis player made it through a semifinal filled with momentum swings to edge No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-4.

Leylah Fernandez

At the outset Thursday, Sabalenka looked in control, claiming 12 of the first 14 points for a 3-0 lead. Just eight minutes had elapsed, and most spectators were yet to reach their seats. Not until later did the 20,000-plus in the stands rally the fist-aloft Fernandez with chants of “Let’s go, Leylah! Let’s go!” accompanied by rhythmic clapping.

“I’m glad that whatever I’m doing on court, the fans are loving it — and I’m loving it, too,” Fernandez said. “We’ll say it’s magical.”

At the end of the first set and again the third, it was Sabalenka who let things get away from her. In the last game, she double-faulted twice in a row to set up match point, then sailed a forehand long.

“This,” Sabalenka said, “is what we call pressure.”

No matter what, seemingly, Fernandez did not feel it. Didn’t waver.

This was the left-handed Fernandez’s fourth consecutive three-set victory over a seeded opponent. First came No. 3 Naomi Osaka, the 2018 and 2020 US Open champion. Then came No. 16 Angelique Kerber, the 2016 champ. That was followed by No. 5 Elina Svitolina and Sabalenka.

“There’s no limit to what I can do. I’m just glad that right now everything’s going well,” said Fernandez, who could give Canada its second US Open women’s title in three years, following Bianca Andreescu‘s triumph in 2019.

She’ll next face Emma Raducanu in the final.

Fernandez was born in Montreal to a Filipino Canadian mother and Ecuadorian father; the family moved to Florida after Leylah had success as a junior at age 12. Her dad is also her coach, although he is not with her in New York, instead offering coaching tips in daily phone conversations.

Perhaps he told his daughter to let Sabalenka make all the mistakes in a tiebreaker, because that’s what happened at the conclusion of the first set. Sabalenka went up 2-0 and then lost her way. Every point won by Fernandez came courtesy of a miss by Sabalenka.

“I wouldn’t say that she did something,” Sabalenka said. “I would say that I [destroyed] myself.”

In the second set, Sabalenka regained her form and Fernandez took a step back. But by the third, it was Fernandez’s time to shine.

“Now she’s like [a] top-10 player,” Sabalenka said. “We’ll see how good she will be in the future.”

Leylah Fernandez Advances to First Grand Slam Semifinal While Continuing Cinderella Run at US Open

It’s a birthday Leylah Fernandez will never forget…

The half-Ecuadorian Canadian tennis player, who just turned 19 on Monday, defeated No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5) at the US Open to reach her first Grand Slam semifinal.

Leylah Fernandez

In the process, the unseeded Canadian teenager with an exciting game and enthusiasm to match became the youngest player to get that far in the women’s bracket at Flushing Meadows since Maria Sharapova.

Fernandez had previously recorded wins over past US Open champions Naomi Osaka and Angelique Kerber.

“I obviously have no idea what I’m feeling right now,” said Fernandez, a left-hander with quick baseline reflexes who is ranked 73rd and participating in only the seventh major tournament of her early career. “I was so nervous. I was trying to do what my coach told me to do.”

That coach is her father, who isn’t in New York; he stayed home and is offering tips in daily phone conversations. That helps, certainly, as does the loud backing she has been receiving from the spectators, who rose and cheered wildly each time Fernandez raised a fist high above her head or wind-milled both arms after winning a key point in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“Thanks to you, I was able to push through today,” she told the crowd after edging Svitolina, the 2020 Tokyo Games bronze medalist whose two Grand Slam semifinal runs include the 2019 US Open.

Not requiring any encouragement to get out of his seat was Fernandez’s fitness coach, who would leap and shout, pointing fingers or waving clenched fists. Svitolina’s husband, two-time major semifinalist Gael Monfils, offered similar support from Ashe’s other guest box.

It was touch-and-go down the stretch — even after Fernandez grabbed the opening set, and even after she led 5-2 in the third. One way in which she held a clear advantage: Of points that lasted more than eight shots, Fernandez won 26, Svitolina 16.

Five times, Fernandez was two points from winning but failed to collect the next point. Finally, at 5-all in the tiebreaker, she moved to match point when she smacked a down-the-line passing shot that got past Svitolina with the help of a bounce off the net tape.

Fernandez put up both palms, as if to say, “Sorry about that bit of luck,” while Svitolina put a hand to her mouth in dismay.

Svitolina’s backhand contributed to her undoing late, and when a return from that side landed long, it was over. Fernandez dropped to her knees at the baseline and covered her face; Svitolina walked around the net to approach Fernandez for a hug.

Next on this magical ride for Fernandez will come yet another test against a player who is ranked higher and has more experience on the sport’s biggest stages: Aryna Sabalenka. Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, matched her best result in a Grand Slam tournament by reaching the semifinals via a 6-1, 6-4 victory over French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova, who was seeded No. 8.

Carlos Alcaraz Becomes Youngest Male Player to Reach U.S. Open Quarterfinals in Nearly 60 Years

Carlos Alcaraz has earned a place in US Open history…

The 18-year-old Spanish player beat 141st-ranked qualifier Peter Gojowczyk of Germany 5-7, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 6-0 to reach the final eight at Flushing Meadows.

Carlos Alcaraz

In the process, Alcaraz has become the youngest man to reach the quarterfinals of the US Open since 1963.

Alcaraz will now face No. 12 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, a 21-year-old from Canada who reached his second straight major quarterfinal by defeating Frances Tiafoe 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (6), 6-4 with the help of 24 aces.

“At some point, age is just a number,” Auger-Aliassime when asked about Alcaraz. “He already feels like a player that is established.”

The 55th-ranked Alcaraz got past No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas in his previous match and is the youngest player with two five-set Grand Slam wins in a row since Michael Chang was 16 at the 1988 U.S. Open.

Auger-Aliassime had never reached the final eight at any Grand Slam tournament until Wimbledon in July, a month before he turned 21 on August 8. Now the Canadian is the youngest man to reach consecutive major quarterfinals since Juan Martin del Potro made it to three straight in 2008-09.

Leylah Fernandez Defeats Former US Open Champion Angelique Kerber to Reach First-Ever Grand Slam Quarterfinal

Leylah Fernandez has taken down another ex-champion at the U.S. Open

The 18-year-old half-Ecuadorian Canadian tennis player, unseeded at this year’s event, won the last five games to eliminate 2016 title winner Angelique Kerber 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2 on Sunday at Flushing Meadows, proving that her earlier upset of defending champion Naomi Osaka was no fluke.

Leylah Fernandez

In the process, Fernandez has reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal, and she did a day before her 19th birthday.

With grit and guile, plus a veteran’s poise in the face of big deficits against much more accomplished opponents, Fernandez is displaying strokes and a demeanor that left Kerber offering this assessment: “She can go really far in the next few years.”

Ask Fernandez for the secret to her success, and she repeatedly mentions two factors. One is being sure to enjoy her time on court. The other is support of family, because her father, who is from Ecuador, her mother, who is Filipino Canadian, and her sisters “have definitely kept the joy for me.”

She credits Dad — who coaches her and has been offering instructions in daily phone calls while back home, taking care of a younger sibling — and Mom — who is leading the cheers with other family members and Fernandez’s fitness trainer in courtside seats — with teaching a valuable lesson that has nothing to do with tennis.

They made sure to emphasize, Fernandez said, that “you can’t take things too seriously, you’ve got to be mature but at the same time just be a kid, let loose, have fun, eat chocolate when you want to, and just have fun, watch movies, go past your bedtime.”

Just as against Osaka in Arthur Ashe Stadium two nights earlier, Fernandez dropped the opening set against Kerber in Louis Armstrong Stadium, which was so full that would-be spectators were being turned away at the doors.

And just as against Osaka, Fernandez trailed in the second set: Kerber led by a break at 4-2.

Both times, the 73rd-ranked Fernandez managed to get folks in the seats on her side, exulting with every of her on-the-run, impossible-angle groundstrokes that added up to a 45-28 edge in winners.

Fernandez redirects opponent’s shots swiftly and seemingly with ease, sometimes dropping to a knee near the baseline to get the proper leverage. That’s a very similar style to the one another lefty, Kerber, used to reach No. 1 in the rankings and claim three Grand Slam titles.

Kerber, 33, has been playing well enough lately to get to the Wimbledon semifinals in July, but instead of that experience paying off, Fernandez figured the age difference worked in her favor as the contest stretched past two hours.

“I was honestly tired in the third set,” Fernandez acknowledged. “But with that thought, I was telling myself, like, ‘If I’m tired, she must be exhausted.'”

Still, in the last set, Kerber held a break point with a chance to go 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 put her hands on her knees and smiled. She stood and patted her chest with her palm, while Kerber walked around the net to offer a clasp of hands and an arm around Fernandez’s shoulders.

“I remember the feeling really well,” Kerber said when asked about playing with the sort of loose-grip freedom Fernandez displays. “I mean it’s (a) few years ago. But of course, I mean, she has no pressure.”

Now Fernandez, who only once had been as far as the third round at a major tournament until now, will meet No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina in the quarterfinals.

Leylah Fernandez Upsets Defending Champion Naomi Osaka to Reach Fourth Round at US Open

Leylah Fernandez has taken down the defending champion…

The 18-year-old half-Ecuadorian Canadian tennis player, ranked No. 73 in the world, defeated reigning US Open champion Naomi Osaka in their third round match on Friday night 5-7, 6-7 (2), 6-4.

Leylah Fernandez

Before this year’s US Open, Fernandez had never been past the second round of a Grand Slam..

“Right before the match, I knew I was able to win,” Fernandez said after her upset win over Osaka.

Osaka had come into Friday with a 16-match winning streak at majors and four career trophies, all on hard courts. But this was Osaka’s first Slam tournament since she pulled out of the French Open before the second round to take a mental health break — she also sat out Wimbledon, before participating in the 2020 Tokyo Games, where she lit the cauldron — and maybe the time off was an issue.

Another possible factor in her failure to close things out while serving for the victory against the left-hander Fernandez at 6-5 in the second set: Osaka hadn’t competed since Monday. That’s because the woman she was supposed to meet in the second round, Olga Danilovic, withdrew due to illness.

Osaka left the court after seven games to change outfits and put on a yellow dress. She was quite good down the stretch in the opening set. She grabbed 12 of the last 13 points, including the last nine, with a break at love to go up 6-5, and a hold at love with the help of a pair of aces at 112 mph and 114 mph to end it.

Osaka seemed on track for a similar conclusion in the second set, leading 6-5 and serving. But when she sailed a forehand wide, Fernandez had her first break of the match to make it 6-all.

“I guess I wanted to stay on court a little bit longer. And I wanted to put on a show for everybody here,” Fernandez said. “One hour was not enough for me to be on court.”

And so began Osaka’s downward spiral. She fell behind 5-0 in the ensuing tiebreaker, missing shots and displaying her frustration, as she occasionally has done in the past, by flinging her racket. Chair umpire Alison Hughes did not sanction Osaka then, although later a warning was issued for hitting a ball into the stands.

“Honestly, I wasn’t focusing on Naomi,” Fernandez said. “I was only focusing on myself and what I needed to do.”

More to the point, Osaka was not at her best. She left the court with a white towel draped over her head after the second set and never really got her game going the rest of the way.

Fernandez certainly had something to do with that, particularly because of her serve. She won 18 of 19 first-serve points — and never faced a break point — in the third set.

Fernandez’s knee-to-the-ground, quick-redirect style at the baseline is reminiscent of another lefty, Angelique Kerber, a three-time Grand Slam champion who won the 2016 US Open. And who just so happens to be the next opponent for Fernandez.

“I’m going to put on a show like I did tonight,” Fernandez said, “and we’re going to see how it goes.”

Carlos Alcaraz Outlasts Stefanos Tsitsipas to Reach Fourth Round at US Open

Carlos Alcaraz has notched the biggest win on the ATP Tour

The 18-year-old Spanish tennis player claimed a fifth set tiebreaker to stun third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in a thrilling third-round match at the US Open.

Carlos Alcaraz

Alcaraz prevailed 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 0-6, 7-6 (7-5) to set up his first Grand Slam fourth-round appearance.

Alcaraz became the youngest man to reach the French Open third round since 1992 in June – and he nce again demonstrated why he’s being tipped for future glory as he shocked the world number three at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Alcaraz twice led Tsitsipas, who reached his first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros earlier this year, by a set and showed maturity well beyond his years as he also recovered from failing to take a game in the fourth.

Roared on by a partisan crowd, the talented Spaniard survived a break point at 3-2 down in the deciding set and showed no sign of tension as he held serve to force the final tie-break.

In a dazzling display Alcaraz landed 61 winners and, after more than four hours of play, clinched his third match point with an assured forehand winner to set up a fourth-round meeting with German Peter Gojowczyk.

“I think without this crowd I haven’t the possibility to win the match,” said Alcaraz. “I was down at the beginning of the fourth set so thank you to the crowd for pushing me up in the fifth.

“It’s an incredible feeling for me. This victory means a lot to me. It’s the best match of my career, the best win, to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas is a dream come true for me.”

Rafael Nadal to Make Debut at Citi Open in Washington, D.C.

Rafael Nadal is gearing up for hard-court season…

The 35-year-old Spanish tennis star will return to competition later this month by making his debut at the Citi Open in Washington.

Rafael Nadal

Organizers of the hard-court tournament have announced that the 20-time Grand Slam champion is in the field for the July 31 to August 8 event that serves as a US Open tuneup.

Nadal has not played since his loss to Novak Djokovic in the semifinals of the French Open last month.

He decided to sit out Wimbledon, which ends Sunday, and the Tokyo Olympics, which open July 23, saying his body needed time to rest and recover after the clay-court season.

Other players entered in the Citi Open include Wimbledon semifinalists Denis Shapovalov and Hubert Hurkacz, who beat Roger Federer on Wednesday.

Wimbledon quarterfinalists Felix Auger-Aliassime and Karen Khachanov also are entered.

The tournament says Rock Creek Park Tennis Center will be allowed to have spectators at 50% of capacity. Last year’s Citi Open was canceled because of the pandemic.

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina Defeats Federico Delbonis at French Open to Reach First-Ever Grand Slam Quarterfinals

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina has reached his first Grand Slam quarterfinal…

The 22-year-old Spanish tennis player battled past Federico Delbonis 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in two hours and 56 minutes on Sunday at the French Open.

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina

Davidovich Fokina, who overcame Casper Ruud in a mammoth five-set battle in the third round, hit 42 winners and broke Delbonis seven times on Court Suzanne-Lenglen to set up a clash with sixth seed Alexander Zverev.

Davidovich Fokina improved to 19-10 on the season with the victory over 30-year-old Delbonis.

He previously reached the fourth round at the US Open in September (l. Zverev) and advanced to the semifinals on clay at the Estoril Open (l. Ramos-Vinolas) in May to reach a career-high No. 45 in the ATP rankings.

In a lively start where both players broke serve, Davidovich Fokina moved ahead, reeling off four straight games to lead 5-3 as errors started to fly from the Argentine’s racquet.

The Spaniard, who had spent ten hours and 14 minutes on court ahead of this fourth round match, won 46 per cent of points on Delbonis’ first serve, dominating from the baseline as he showed no signs of fatigue to win the opener.

The Spaniard then raced into a 5-1 lead in the second as he won 93 per cent of points (14/15) on his first serve. Although the youngster displayed some nerves, with Delbonis closing back to 5-4, the Argentine could not convert two break opportunities to level at 5-5. Davidovich Fokina capitalized on his third set point with a forehand winner to move further clear.

Lefthander Delbonis hit his heavy forehand into the Spaniard’s backhand with more success throughout the third set though, and battled back from a break down to gain a foothold in the contest. However, Davidovich Fokina made 82 per cent of his first serves in the fourth and used the drop shot to great effect against his tiring opponent, making the crucial breakthrough at 3-3. He then fended off four break points to serve out the contest to extend his stay in France.

Delbonis lost just eight games in his third-round encounter with Fabio Fognini to move to 19 clay-court wins for the season. However, the 30-year-old, who reached the quarterfinals at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia as a qualifier (l. Opelka), struggled to deal with the Spaniard’s power on Sunday.

Rafael Nadal Ends Up on the Same Half of French Open Draw as Novak Djokovic & Roger Federer

It’s the (bad) luck of the draw for Rafael Nadal

The 34-year-old Spanish tennis star, the reigning French Open champion, has ended up in the same half of the Roland Garros men’s field in the draw as Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, meaning no more than one of them can reach the final.

Rafael Nadal

The Big Three top the leaderboard for Grand Slam men’s singles titles. Federer and Nadal head to Roland Garros, where play begins Sunday, tied with 20, while Djokovic has 18. No one else has more than 14.

Nadal, the King of Clay, beat Djokovic in straight sets in the 2020 final for his record-extending 13th championship on the red clay of Paris, but if they meet again this time, it would be in the semifinals.

Nadal is ranked and seeded No. 3 — the seedings adhere strictly to the ATP rankings, so the Spaniard’s unprecedented success in Paris is irrelevant — so he could have wound up on either side of the bracket but was placed in No. 1 Djokovic’s half.

So was Federer, whose record for most weeks atop the ATP rankings recently was broken by Djokovic. Federer is seeded eighth after playing only three matches over the past 15 months because of two operations on his right knee and could meet Djokovic in the quarterfinals.

The other possible men’s quarterfinal on their side is Nadal vs. No. 7 Andrey Rublev.

On the other side of the draw, the potential quarterfinals are No. 2 Daniil Medvedev vs. No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas and No. 4 Dominic Thiem vs. No. 6 Alexander Zverev.

Medvedev is a two-time Grand Slam finalist but is 0-4 for his French Open career. Thiem won last year’s US Open and twice has been the runner-up in Paris.

This is the first time that Djokovic, Nadal and Federer have been in the same half of a Grand Slam main draw, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Maria Camila Osorio Serrano Reaches First-Ever WTA Final

Maria Camila Osorio Serrano is thisclose to claiming her first WTA title.

The 19-year-old Colombian tennis player, the former junior World No.1, continues her Cinderella run on home soil in Bogota’s Copa Colsanitas.

Maria Camila Osorio Serrano

Osorio Serrano, a wildcard in this tournament has had a breakthrough run, which continued on Saturday with an emphatic 6-1, 6-2 semifinal victory over French qualifier Harmony Tan, putting her through to her first WTA singles final in just her fourth career WTA main draw appearance.

Her effort this week has seen her earn her first win against a Top 100 player, beating No.7 seed Tereza Martincova in the second round, before following that up with a victory over former Top 50 player Stefanie Voegele in the last eight. She has not dropped a set in four victories this week.

“I feel super happy to be in the final,” Osorio Serrano said after the match. “I was really hoping to be here and to play in the final. I really don’t feel any pressure and I feel like it’s an opportunity for me to enjoy, to play my best and to do what I’ve been doing the whole week.

“It’s my chance to show my tennis, show my best and I hope that I can play well in this final.”

After winning a nearly 15-minute game to begin the match, Osorio Serrano overwhelmed the French qualifier in the first five games to build a 5-0 lead. Contesting her sixth match of the week, Tan received a medical timeout at the ensuing changeover and saved the bagel, but never found a foothold in the match over the course of 85 minutes.

Though each player landed less than half of her first serves in the match, it was Osorio Serrano who proved all the more effective on return: in all, the wildcard broke serve seven times.

Currently ranked World No.180, Osorio Serrano is the lowest-ranked singles finalist on the WTA this year, and is the third player from her country to play for the title in Bogota. Fabiola Zuluaga won the event four times, in 1999 and 2002-04, and Mariana Duque-Mariño won her crown in 2010.

The former US Open junior champion will play No.5 seed Tamara Zidansek for the title.

At the event’s last staging in 2019, Osorio Serrano reached the quarterfinals as a wildcard before bowing out to eventual Amanda Anisimova in three sets. She and Zidansek, the lone seeded player among those to reach the quarterfinals this week, have never played.

“It would mean a lot to win my first WTA title because that’s what we’re working for,” Zidansek said. “I’ve won two WTA 125Ks, but I remember that feeling, how it felt. Going for my first WTA 250 title, winning that would be amazing.”