Canada’s Leylah Fernandez reached the semifinals of the US Open after defeating another top-10 player, Elena Svitolina, who had won nine matches in a row, 6/3, 3/6, 7/6.
- Leila became the youngest semifinalist since Maria Sharapova in 2005. Fernandez is now 19 – and her birthday was during the tournament, on September 6.
- In the third round, Leila played a set and a break against last year’s champion Naomi Osaka.
- In the fourth, she played a set and a break against 2016 champion Angelique Kerber, who had gained great form over the summer. But Fernandez had her so wrapped up that at the end of the match there was not much the German could do.
It turns out that in the last three matches she defeated two top-5 and one top-20 tennis players in three sets. She had never beaten a top-five opponent before and a top-20 opponent only once in her previous six matches
“Honestly, I have no idea how I feel right now. I was so nervous… Thank you so much to the fans who cheered me on. You helped me through today,” Fernandez said after the match.
Fernandez vs. Svitolina
The US Open has already seen many matches that were stunning in terms of quality and fair play. Fernandez vs. Svitolina is a match to remember.
Svitolina had to increase her activity and strokes in the second set because she had to win the game otherwise. The Canadian was not embarrassed by the fact that Elina is one of the most stable and efficient players of the tour on defense and counterattack.
But in general the Ukrainian was perfectly ready for the fight. In the third set she was losing 2:5, but she evened the score – because she began to hit so strongly and aggressively, as she had never hit before. And in spite of her excited level of activity she didn’t make any mistakes at all.
From 2-5 to 6-6, she allowed just two service errors and two doubles. When Fernandez was one game away from victory, Elina made only one mistake.
But Leila didn’t break under this pressure either. Look at what she was doing at the score 5:5, 40:40, when in the dynamics of the match the initiative was already on the opponent.
A play of 33 shots, each one tighter than the previous one. And in the end the Canadian managed to catch Svitolina on the move with a powerful transfer on the line from the backhand.
Comparisons of tennis with martial arts are already a bit tiresome, but they are quite appropriate here. Because the girls were exchanging hard shots, beating the air out of each other. It was not without reason that after the match Fernandez called what was happening on the court “fight”.
In the end everything was decided in one game with the score 5:5 in the tie-break.
And, unfortunately for Svitolina, this is the theme of her Grand Slam performances, when she has a chance to win big. Everything was in her hands, but from the summer she played too soft, gave her opponent a chance to go around – and she took it (with the help of the net rope).
In the semifinals, Fernandez will play against the world number two, Aryna Sabalenka, who goes through the tournament in a very business-like style – dealing with everyone confidently and unconditionally.