Canadian Leylah Fernandez, who will turn 19 next Monday, surprised the reigning champion of the tournament (5-7, 7-6 (2) and 6-4)
The Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez, number 73 in the world, gave this Friday, the great surprise in the women’s individual competition of the US Open by eliminating the defending champion, the Japanese Naomi Osaka, whom she won in three sets 5- 7, 7-6 (2) and 6-4.
The Canadian teenager Fernandez, who will turn 19 next Monday, surprised Osaka, third seed , under the lights of the Arthur Ashe Stadium center court, and achieved her first pass to a fourth round of a Grand Slam.
The victory is Fernandez’s second Top 5 victory of her career and places her in her first round of 16 Grand Slam match against the other Open champion from 2016, Germany’s 16th-seeded Angelique Kerber.
Osaka received a walkover in the third round after Serbian Olga Danilovic withdrew before her second-round match on Wednesday.
Last year’s champion started the match strong, particularly with her serve, which did not face a break point in the first set.
After the pair held it for 10 games, Osaka regained the last nine points of the first set to take it 7-5.
“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.”
Both tennis players held the serve until the tenth game when Osaka broke it to Fernandez, but with his in his possession he could not close the match.
The former world number one failed to lag behind a quick 0-40 and Fernandez took advantage of break points for the first time in the match.
The Canadian converted for her third chance with a good return that earned her an Osaka forehand error to force a tiebreaker.
Shaken by the abrupt turn of events, Osaka played an error-ridden tiebreak to quickly fall behind 0-5 and Fernández closed the tiebreak 7-2 with a first serve of more than 170 kilometers per hour that the champion could not control.
Fernandez picked up his momentum in the third set and immediately broke Osaka for a 2-0 lead . But the former number one rediscovered her range just in time to emerge from a 15-40 squeeze and keep Fernandez on a 2-1 break advantage.
With Osaka boiling again, the pressure began to mount in Fernandez’s service games.
The crucial game in the final set came with Fernandez serving 3-2, 30-0. With Osaka looking on the verge of regaining the counterattack, Fernandez forced a backhand to the net to get to the game point and then closed it when Osaka landed a big forehand just above the baseline.
After escaping with his lead intact and the fans backing him, Fernández coldly served the victory, hugging himself to seal his impressive comeback.
Fernandez broke only once in the match, as his left-handed serve puzzled the rest of Osaka throughout the night. Osaka got only 62% of her returns in the game, a percentage lower than 66% than the Canadian teenager who had her first big night of glory as a professional, three days before celebrating her 19th birthday.
The rest of the fifth day, in the women’s competition left the triumphs of all the favorites, led by the Ukrainian Elina Svitolina (5), the Czech Barbora Krejcikova (8), the Spanish Garbiñe Muguruza (9), the Romanian Simona Halep ( 12), the Belgian Elise Mertens (15) and Kerber (16).
Naomi Osaka, who didn’t face a break point till serving for the match, plays an horrendous tiebreak and has to play a decider vs. Fernandez. 7-5, 6-7(2). Racket paid the price multiple times… pic.twitter.com/PJPnsnXWrn— José Morgado (@josemorgado) September 4, 2021
Naomi Osaka, normally very stoic, throws her racquet after missing a forehand. No code violation but she lost the tiebreak to Fernandez pic.twitter.com/o8ZsVL8osM— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) September 4, 2021