19-Year-Old Leylah Fernandez Upsets No. 5 Elina Svitolina, Advances to US Open Semis

Blake SchusterContributor ISeptember 7, 2021

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 07: Leylah Annie Fernandez of Canada returns against Elina Svitolina of Ukraine during her Women's Singles quarterfinals match on Day Nine of the 2021 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 07, 2021 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Leylah Fernandez's dream run at the U.S. Open isn't over yet. 

The 19-year-old Canadian defeated No. 5 Elina Svitolina in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5), to mark her third upset in as many matches. Fernandez previously defeated No. 3 Naomi Osaka and No. 16 Angelique Kerber to reach the quarters. 

Sportsnet Stats @SNstats

BREAKING<br> <br>Leylah Fernandez becomes the 4th Canadian woman in history to reach the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USOpen?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USOpen</a> / US National Championship Semi-Finals, joining:<br><br>Lois Moyes in 1909<br>Carling Bassett in 1984<br>Bianca Andreescu in 2019 <a href="https://t.co/wvSA9txfDc">pic.twitter.com/wvSA9txfDc</a>

Now Fernandez waits to find out who she'll face in the semifinals. In only her second U.S. Open appearance, Fernandez has become one of the fan favorites at Arthur Ashe Stadium with the crowd fiercely backing the teenager at every turn. 

Almost immediately after winning the match, Fernandez gave a salute back to the crowd, acknowledging in her on-court interview just how much the fans in New York pushed her forward. 

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Leylah Fernandez is the youngest woman to reach the semifinals at the US Open since 18-year-old Maria Sharapova in 2005.<br><br>She's also the youngest to defeat two WTA Top-5 players at any major since 17-year-old Serena Williams at 1999 US Open. <a href="https://t.co/SVuawxodQ9">pic.twitter.com/SVuawxodQ9</a>

That became necessary throughout a difficult second set in which Svitolina charged out to a 5-1 lead. Fernandez could've folded and saved energy for the decisive third set. Instead she chipped away at her opponent's lead, getting the score to 5-3—and even forcing a deuce—before Svitolina was able to put her away. 

"Svitolina, she's a great player, she fought for everything, she runs for everything, she deserves to be in the quarterfinals and I’m honored to have a fight with her," Fernandez said. "I told myself to trust my shots, trust that everything is going to go well and even if I lose I’ve got to go for it. I’m glad I did.”

The drama carried over to the third set in which Fernandez went up 5-2 and came within two points of winning the match in three separate games. 

But Svitolina battled back to force a tiebreaker that only brought about more of the same. Fernandez went up 4-1, but Svitolina tied things at four three points later. 

ESPN @espn

19-YEAR-OLD LEYLAH FERNANDEZ DOES IT AGAIN!<br><br>She becomes the youngest player to defeat two WTA Top-5 players at the same major since 17-year-old Serena Williams at the 1999 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USOpen?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USOpen</a> <a href="https://t.co/vFib8J52iw">pic.twitter.com/vFib8J52iw</a>

Finally, after two hours and 24 minutes, Fernandez secured a match point and booked a spot in the final four. 

Now it's up to No. 8 Barbora Krejcikova and No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka to decide who will be the next giant Fernandez has to slay en route to a historic major title.