Leylah Fernandez has instantly gained a legion of Filipino tennis fans as she continues her magical run in the US Open, storming into her first Grand Slam finals with a string of upsets.
Fernandez, born to an Ecuadorian father and a Canadian mother of Filipino descent, reached the finals with a 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-4 shocker over world No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.
“I’m so, so happy to hear that everyone in the Philippines is cheering for me and supporting me,” the 19-year-old said after her win over Sabalenka.
Fernandez has acknowledged her Filipino roots by including the Philippine flag alongside the Ecuadorian and Canadian flags on her social media bio.
But the teenager admitted she does not know much about Filipino culture, except for the cuisine introduced to her by her lolo (grandfather).
“[H]opefully when I get back to Canada and visit him, he’s going to make a really nice dish for the whole family, especially a Filipino dish because I do miss it,” Fernandez said.
“I just can’t wait to learn more about the culture in the future.”
Ranked No. 73 in the world, Fernandez has captured the hearts of fans in Flushing Meadows as she defied the odds with sterling wins over the big names in the sport.
She dethroned four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka in the third round, eliminated three-time Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber in the fourth round, and stunned world No. 5 Elina Svitolina in the quarterfinals.
Pitted against the big-serving Sabalenka in the semifinals, Fernandez proved her dream campaign is no fluke as she barged into the championship round.
Fernandez will tangle with 18-year-old Emma Raducanu of Great Britain in only the eighth Grand Slam finals in the Open era that features two teenagers. – Rappler.com