Leylah Fernandez added one more upset to her tally at the 2021 US Open as she reached the semi-finals of a Major for the first time in her career. The Canadian ousted fifth seed Elina Svitolina in a roller-coaster quarter-final clash, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5) in two hours and 24 minutes.
Fernandez cruised through the opening set thanks to a break in the sixth game of the set. She didn’t face any break point in the set and although was taken to deuce twice while serving for the set, was able to win the set and take a lead in the match.
The Ukrainian retaliated strongly in the second set by taking a double break lead go up 5-1. However, she handed one of the two breaks back while serving for the set the first time around, in the seventh game. At 5-3, serving for the set for the second time, Svitolina struggled yet again and faced three break back points. But she did well to save them all before bringing up her first set point and then making good on it.
US Open: Leylah Fernandez’s sizzling summer
The final set oscillated between both players. At the start, Fernandez looked to be in control as she built a 5-2 lead and was just a game away from securing her place in the semis. However, Svitolina didn’t give up and won the next three games in a row to level the set at five-all. In the tie-break, Fernandez once again built a lead only to see Svitolina erase that and level the score at five-all. Fernandez had her first match point at 6-5 in the tie-break and was able to successfully convert it after Svitolina hit an error off her backhand.
Not much separated the two players in the match. Svitolina won 72% of her first-serve points while Fernandez won 70%. Fernandez did have 10 more winners than the world no. 5 – 42 to the latter’s 32 but also had six more unforced errors than the latter – 31 to 25. As it turned out, Svitolina won two more points than Fernandez’s 97 to end the match.
Leylah Fernandez, who celebrated her 19th birthday on 6th September is the youngest semi-finalist at the US Open since Maria Sharapova reached the semis as an 18-year-old.
Photo Credit: Darren Carroll/USTA