US Open

Fil-Canadian Leylah Fernandez stays alive, reaches US Open quarters

Delfin Dioquino
Fil-Canadian Leylah Fernandez stays alive, reaches US Open quarters

MILESTONE. Leylah Fernandez will play in a Grand Slam quarterfinals for the first time in her promising career.

Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

After dethroning Naomi Osaka, Leylah Fernandez adds another US Open champion to her list of victims as she beats Angelique Kerber to storm into the quarterfinals

Filipina-Canadian Leylah Fernandez kept her Cinderella run alive in the US Open after edging German Angelique Kerber to barge into the quarterfinals on Sunday, September 5 (Monday, September 6, Manila time).

After dethroning defending titlist Naomi Osaka, Fernandez added another US Open champion to her list of victims by completing a 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2 comeback win against No. 16 seed Kerber.

The 18-year-old Fernandez held her composure following an opening-set defeat as she forged a decider en route to her first career Grand Slam quarterfinals appearance.

Dragged to tiebreak in the second set, the unseeded Fernandez flaunted the steely resolve she displayed against Osaka in the third round by holding off a fightback from Kerber.

Fernandez raced to a 5-1 lead in the tiebreak before 2016 US Open champion Kerber came back by winning 4 of the next 5 points, 5-6.

Kerber, though, committed a forehand error in the next point, giving the second set to Fernandez.

Fernandez – buoyed by the Louis Armstrong Stadium crowd – dominated afterwards, securing the third set in 41 minutes as three-time Grand Slam winner Kerber fizzled out and ended the match with back-to-back errors.

“Honestly, the crowd has been amazing, so thanks to them I was able to win,” said Fernandez. “I was just trusting my game.”

“She’s an incredible fighter, incredible player,” she said of Kerber.

“Just putting one more ball back in, fighting, and just having fun on the court.”

The win was a fitting birthday gift for Fernandez, who will turn 19 on Monday, September 6.

Kerber, 15 years older than her opponent, countered Fernandez’s enthusiasm with veteran calm and focus, but it was the 73rd ranked Canadian taking charge in the third, sweeping the final five games to cinch a breathtaking victory.

“I think it was a tough one,” said Kerber. “I mean I gave everything I had today.”

“She played I think an unbelievable match, especially in the third set,” she said of the rising teen. “I think she played also one of her best matches in her career, and she had nothing to lose.

“She went out there, she played her tennis. She really is going for her winners.”

Fernandez seeks another upset as she faces No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine in the quarterfinals. – with a report from Reuters/Rappler.com

Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.