New York: Leylah Fernandez of Canada followed up her upset of No. 3 Naomi Osaka in grand style.
The 18-year-old from Montreal upset No. 16 seed and three-time Grand Slam singles champion Angelique Kerber of Germany yesterday to reach the U.S. Open quarterfinals, righting herself after an inconsistent first set to earn a 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2 victory at Louis Armstrong Stadium.
Fernandez, who isn’t seeded here, had a 4-2 lead in the first set but Kerber won the last four games of the set and extended that into the second set to win seven of eight games. But Fernandez, daughter of an Ecuadorian father and Canadian mother of Filipino heritage, found her footing and turned things around by breaking Kerber’s serve to pull even at 4-4. In the tiebreak, Fernandez took a 5-1 lead before Kerber — the 2016 U.S. Open winner — managed to regroup. Fernandez had three chances to win the set before she closed it out.
The third set went on serve until Fernandez broke for 3-2. Fernandez ended the match on her first match point, when Kerber netted a backhand.
Fernandez credited her friends and family for bringing her back to earth after her upset of Osaka. It was only the third round, they said. “You still have Angie Kerber. She’s a multiple Grand Slam champion and she’s a fighter,” Fernandez recalled them saying.
Asked where she got her composure, Fernandez smiled. “I honestly don’t know,” she said. “I just try to use all my trainings from back home.”
She next will face Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, the No. 5 seed. “That’s going to be a tough match. She’s a fighter. She returns a lot of balls,” Fernandez said. “I’m just going to go on court and have fun, just like I’ve been doing the past few days, and see how it goes.”