Leylah Fernandez of Laval, Que., Hit back at a 4-1 deficit early in the first set to narrowly beat Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-4, getting her all first shot at a Grand Slam title.
LEYLAH ANNIE FERNANDEZ IS IN THE FINAL OF THE US OPEN!
Def. Naomi Osaka, defending US Open champion
Def. former world No.1 Angelique Kerber
Def. 5 Elina Svitolina seeds
Def. Current World # 2 Aryna Sabalenka
– Tim and his friends (@timandfriends) September 10, 2021
The 19-year-old fan favorite got off to a slow start in Thursday’s semi-final game, struggling early to even make contact with the No.2 seed’s searing serves and a formidable cross forehand.
But by the time she beat Sabalenka to take a 4-2 lead in the third set, it was clear that Fernandez, 73rd in the table, was going nowhere without a fight.
The spirited, odds-defying march of the Canadian through one of the game’s most prestigious events – she sent out both Japanese No.3 Naomi Osaka, Germany’s Angelique Kerber and Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina No 5 to reach the semi-finals – won the world assault tennis, including the stadium-loving fans Arthur Ashe.
Crowd support seemed to calm her down midway through the first set, when, with the momentum clearly on Sabalenka’s side, Fernandez delivered three straight aces to secure a quick win and stop the bleeding.
As they have done almost from the start, fans & mdash some of them sported canadian flags and hand-written T-shirts with the name “Leylah” & mdash hailed her as a hometown favorite , an advantage that sometimes seemed to annoy Sabalenka.
When Sabalenka missed an easy overhead volley in the first set tiebreaker, room erupted for Fernandez and then again in the second set when the Canadian delivered a sharp backhand her opponent couldn’t handle.
And when Fernandez took a one-match lead in the second set, a lead she eventually gave up, a visibly frustrated Sabalenka decided to pull her racquet out, smashing it to pieces on the ground.
Fernandez will look to become the second Canadian to win the women’s singles at Flushing Meadows after Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Ont., Who won the US Open title in 2019.
She will face Greece’s Maria Sakkari, 17th, or Britain’s Emma Raducanu, 18, in Saturday’s final.
Meanwhile, Montrealer Felix Auger-Aliassime, number 12, will face Russia’s Daniil Medvedev, number 2, in the men’s semi-final on Friday.