(September 3, 2021) FLUSHING MEADOWS – It was the second upset of a No. 3 seed by an 18-year-old in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Friday when Canadian teen Leylah Fernandez stunned defending champion Naomi Osaka 5-7, 7-6(2), 6-4 to reach the round of 16.
Osaka served for the match at 7-5, 6-5 and failed to close. The woman who represents Japan lost her composure. Along with hitting more errors, she smashed her racquet three times in frustration.
“I guess I wanted to stay on court a little big longer. I wanted to put on a show for everybody here. One hour was just not enough for me,” Fernandez said in her on-court interview.
At what point in the match did her belief come in, asked her interviewer? Fernandez said: “From the very beginning, right before the match, I knew I was able to win.”
“I didn’t play that well,” Osaka said. “Like I didn’t move that well at all. It’s kind of to be expected sometimes.”
Osaka apologized for smashing her behavior. “I’m really sorry about that. I’m not really sure why. Like, I felt like I was pretty — I was telling myself to be calm, but I feel like maybe there was a boiling point.
“Like normally I feel like I like challenges. But recently I feel very anxious when things don’t go my way, and I feel like you can feel that. I’m not really sure why it happens the way it happens now.
“But, yeah, it’s basically why. You could kind of see that. I was kind of like a little kid.”
Osaka in her news conference said that she was going to take a break, “Basically I feel like I’m kind of at this point where I’m trying to figure out what I want to do, and I honestly don’t know when I’m going to play my next tennis match. I think I’m going to take a break from playing for a while.”
“I feel like for me recently, like, when I win I don’t feel happy. I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad. I don’t think that’s normal.”
“It was a great match,” Fernandez said to media. “I was very happy how I played in the first set. I was serving well. I was playing well. She just edged up near the end. In the break I was telling myself to stay positive, keep fighting. I’m there, I’m close.
“In the second set I guess on the very last game I found the solution to the problem of returning her serve. I’m glad that I found it. From then on I was just fighting, using the crowd’s energy, putting the ball back in as much as I can, just be offensive and go for my shots.”
“Even a break down in the second set, or even in the first set I still believed. I still told myself that I’m closer and closer to finding a solution, that I will get that break opportunity, I will have that moment in hand. I’m just glad that I had it and I took it and ran away with it.”
World No. 73 Fernandez will be playing another fellow southpaw in 2016 champion in 16th seed Angelique Kerber in the fourth round. Kerber defeated 2017 winner Sloane Stephens 5-7, 6-2, 6-3.
This will be the Canadian’s first time that she has reached the second week of a major tournament.
The day began for the women, with all of the top 20 seeds in the 3rd round for the first time in more than 20 years.
No. 12 Simona Halep beat No. 19 Elena Rybakina 7-6 (11), 4-6, 6-3 to reach the U.S. Open fourth round for the first time in five years.
In the battle between two two-time major winners, No. 9 seed Garbine Muguruza stopped Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.
The woman from Spain will play French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova who is playing her first US Open main draw. The Czech beat Kamilla Rakhimova 6-4, 6-2.
Other seeds advancing were No.5 Elina Svitolina, and No. 15 Elise Mertens.
More to follow…..