Fernandez fairytale continues into US Open final following upset of Sabalenka

Leylah Fernandez continues her remarkable US Open run with a three-set win over Aryna Sabalenka in the semi-finals on Thursday. Fernandez awaits either Maria Sakkari or Emma Raducanu in the title match.

Leylah Fernandez, US Open 2021

2021 US OPEN, SEMI-FINAL

LEYLAH FERNANDEZ d. ARYNA SABALENKA (2) 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-4

  • What happened: Giant-killer Leylah Fernandez upset Aryna Sabalenka in a thrilling US Open semi-final.
  • You will also learn: Fernandez has now ousted the No 2, No 3, and No 5 seeds this fortnight.
  • Why you should read this: It was a dramatic match with lots of momentum swings as Fernandez held her nerve better than Sabalenka in the end.

The remarkable US Open run of Leylah Fernandez is going all the way to the final.

Fernandez, only 19 years old, upset Aryna Sabalenka 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-4 in a semi-final thriller on Thursday night. After two hours and 21 minutes, Fernandez punched her ticket to a Grand Slam title match for the first time — in which she awaits either Maria Sakkari or fellow teenager Emma Raducanu.

The Canadian appeared to be getting overpowered early, but she was not about to lose belief having previously defeated top players such as Naomi Osaka, Angelique Kerber, and Elina Svitolina earlier in the tournament. She recovered from an early break deficit, forced a tiebreaker, and then battled back from a 2-0 deficit in the ‘breaker by winning seven of the next eight points.

Sabalenka also gave back an early break in the second, but this time she would not let the disappointment linger. New York’s No 2 seed held her serve comfortably the rest of the way add benefited from a flurry of Fernandez errors to seize a crucial break at 4-4.

Sabalenka cracks at the finish line

In the third set it was Sabalenka’s turn to play clutch tennis from behind. The Belarusian swiftly erased a 4-2 deficit to get back on level terms at 4-4. However, a big hold by Fernandez put the pressure on her opponent in the 10th game. It proved to be too tall of a task for Sabalenka, who struck two double-faults and two baseline unforced errors to get broken at love.

With that, Fernandez improbably found herself in the final.

As for Sabalenka, she is still in search of her first appearance in a major title match. She also reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon before losing to Karolina Pliskova.

“I had a lot of opportunities and I didn’t use it,” the 23-year-old lamented. “Yeah, in a couple of key moments my serve didn’t work well. Yeah, I’m really disappointed with that. But it is how it is. She play well. I think it was a great match. She deserved this win.”

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