Leylah Fernandez downed the second seed Aryna Sabalenka to reach the US Open final on Thursday evening. The Canadian battled the highest seed in the draw for two hours and 21 minutes before eventually prevailing 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-3.
The Canadian came from down a break in the opening set and even saved a set point before clinching it in the tie-break. Despite the momentum in her favour, Fernandez wasn’t able to start the second set on the same note and was broken in the first game of the set. However, as in the first set, she broke back and put Sabalenka under pressure. The world no. 2 converted a second break for herself in the ninth game and served out the set in the 10th.
Both players started off proceedings on their terms in the deciding set. However, Fernandez drew first blood as she broke Sabalenka in the sixth game. She promptly handed the break back allowing the Belarusian to consolidate the break back at four-all. Two games later, the pressure once again told on Sabalenka and while trying to serve to continue the match in the 10th game, she faltered giving Fernandez the win.
US Open: Leylah Fernandez makes the most of her opportunities
Sabalenka had 45 winners to Fernandez’s 26. But had 52 unforced errors as compared to the Canadian’s 23. Fernandez saved seven of the 11 break points she faced while converting four of the seven break points, she had on Sabalenka’s serve. For the match, only two points separated Fernandez and Sabalenka. The former won 99 points while the latter finished with 97.
This was Fernandez’s third win over a top-five player at Flushing Meadows. Earlier, she’d upset world no. 3 Naomi Osaka and world no. 4 Elina Svitolina. All of her wins against the top-ranked players, including against Sabalenka, saw her come through after three sets.
At the US Open, the 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez is the youngest woman to reach the final of a Major since 17-year-old Maria Sharapova reached the 2004 Wimbledon final.
Photo Credit: Darren Carroll/USTA