FILIPINA Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez is making her mark at the U.S. Open this year as she toppled esteemed champions one after the other.
A day before she turned 19, Fernandez advanced to the quarterfinals after defeating 16th seed Angelique Kerber, a three-time Grand Slam winner, on Sunday, September 5, in New York City.
The unseeded teen made another surprising upset, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2, against Germany’s Kerber, who last won the tournament in 2016.
Fernandez made U.S. Open history on Tuesday, Sept. 7 by becoming the first semifinalist after beating fifth seed Elina Svitolina, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6, in a three set tiebreak.
“I honestly have no idea what I’m feeling right now,” she told Rennae Stubbs on court after the victory. “I was so nervous and I was trying to do what my coach told me to do and thanks to you guys, to the crowd, to the New York crowd, I was able to push through today.”
Fernandez is the first woman since 18-year-old Serena Williams beat two top-5 players at the US Open in 1999.
Prior to her match against Kerber, Fernandez stunned third seed and four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka in the third round of the U.S. Open on Friday, Sept. 3.
“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,” Fernandez said after the match.
“I’m not surprised of anything that’s happening right now,” she added. “I’m just glad that it’s happening now and not later in the year.”
Fernandez was born to an Ecuadorian father and a Filipina-Canadian mother.
Her father, Jorge, is a former soccer player who turned professional at 13.
Fernandez won the 2019 French Open girls singles title, defeating American Emma Navatto and breaking into the top 100 the next year.
In March this year, she won her first WTA title in Monterrey, Mexico without dropping a single set throughout the entire event. n