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Fernandez delights Ashe crowd with three-set upset win over defending champ Naomi Osaka
Canadian teen Leylah Fernandez set up an exciting all left-handed fourth-round clash against former champion Angelique Kerber
US Open 2021: Women’s Singles Third Round
Leylah Fernandez beat Naomi Osaka (3): 5-7, 7-6, 6-4
- What happened: Naomi Osaka’s US Open defence came to an end in the third round on Saturday with a three-set loss to Canadian teen Leylah Fernandez
- You will also learn: Osaka served for the match in the second set before Fernandez fought back to win in thee sets
- Why you should read this: Fernandez, a former junior world No 1 and French Open girls champion, is through to the fourth round at a Grand Slam for the first time
Naomi Osaka‘s recent struggles at Grand Slams continued on Friday as the 23-year-old was upset by 18-year-old Leylah Fernandez in three sets on Friday under the lights on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Osaka, who won the Australian Open in January but then pulled out of Roland-Garros after the first-round and skipped Wimbledon, was beaten 5-7, 7-6, 6-4 by the Canadian teen in two hours and four minutes in front of a packed audience on Ashe.
Osaka served for the match in the second set before the rails went off
While the match was evenly contested right from the start, it was Osaka who pulled the trigger with a break in the 11th game and held serve to win the first set 7-5.
The Japanese player broke once again in the 11th game of set two and served for the match at 6-5 but this time, Fernandez, who later said she wanted to give the crowd a longer match and a better show, broke back for the first time to take the set into a tiebreak.
Once there, Fernandez quickly went up 5-0 as Osaka’s game seemed to drop a notch. The Canadian wrapped up the second set in a tie-breaker.
That momentum swing was enough for Fernandez to gain the upper edge. She broke Osaka early on in the final set to build a 2-0 lead and then held on to the break to complete the win.
Fernandez believed she could win “right before the match”
While many players struggle to play in front of packed audiences in major arenas, Fernandez seemed more than happy to be in the spotlight in the world’s largest arena. On more than one occasion, she pumped her fists to the crowd asking them to get fired up after a great shot even as Osaka grew visibly frustrated and received a code violation for ball abuse.
Speaking on court after her win, Fernandez was asked at what point did she start believing that she could win the match. Like the consummate professional she is, the 18-year-old responded “Right before the match” to a delighted crowd on Ashe Stadium.
Fernadez is now through to the last 16 at a Grand Salam for the first time in her career and will play another former champion Angelique Kerber, who scored a three-set win over Sloane Stephens in another third-round contest.
Full Summary of Friday’s women’s matches at the US Open
- Seeds winning at the US Open (3rd round): Aryna Sabalenka (2), Elina Svitolina (5), Barbora Krejcikova (8), Simona Halep (12), Garbine Muguruza (9), Elise Mertens (15), Angelique Kerber (16),
- Seeds beaten at the US Open (3rd round): Naomi Osaka (3), Victoria Azarenka (18), Elena Rybakina (19), Daria Kasatkina (25), Ons Jabeur (20), Danielle Collins (26)
- To follow our full coverage of the 2021 US Open, please visit this page.
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- Today’s full schedule at the US Open is here.
- All the practical information – how to watch the tournament, how to buy tickets and everything else you could possibly need to know – is hopefully in this page.