(September 5, 2021) Canadian teen Leylah Fernandez backed up her upset win over third seed Naomi Osaka on Friday, with a comeback win against another former US Open champion and 16th seed Angelique Kerber on Sunday. The 18-year-old rallied from a set and a break down 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2 in Louis Armstrong Stadium to defeat the 2016 champion in a battle between southpaws.
“The match was incredible,” said Fernandez. “I was playing well in the first set. Unfortunately I did a few mistakes. Her, as a great player, great champion, she noticed and she took advantage of it. I was able to refocus and fight back for the second.
“In the third, I was just enjoying every moment of it. Honestly, the crowd has been amazing, so thanks to them I was able to win.”
“I was honestly tired in the third set, but with that thought, I was telling myself, like, If I’m tired, she must be exhausted. Just try to put one more ball back in as much as possible. Like I said, trust my game that everything is going to work out.”
For the world No. 73 Fernandez who turns 19 on Monday, this will be her first major final eight.
“I think it was a tough one,” Kerber said to media. “I mean, I, yeah, gave everything I had today. She played I think unbelievable match, especially in the third set, also in the second.
“Yeah, 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, and, yeah, I think at the end it was just two, three points which decide the match. She took it in her hands.”
“If she play like this and have consistently to play the whole year, and also, yeah, the next tournaments like this, the next rounds, I think she has a great future.
“I mean, she has a lot of power in her forehand and, you know, she’s going for her winners. You know, I think she’s always also enjoying her tennis out there.
“You know, it was a tough match. Yeah, I think she can go really far in the next few years.”
Fernandez has now knocked out two former US Open champions in a row – 2018 and 2020 champion Naomi Osaka in the third round and 2016 winner Kerber in the fourth round.
“I did have to pinch myself a little bit to see that it actually happened, but like I said, I knew that my tennis, my level of tennis is there. It’s just a moment of time, opportunity, and I’m glad that I was able to get this opportunity now and that I was able to showcase what I can do in front of these players.
“Even if I would have lost, I would have been proud of myself with the way that I played, the way that I fought. I was lucky enough to get the win today and just getting this experience. It’s my first fourth-round quarterfinals in a Grand Slam. I’m just going to enjoy it at 100%, and tomorrow is going to be a new day.”
Fernandez’s countryman 12th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime advanced to his first US Open final eight with a 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(6), 6-4 win over American Frances Tiafoe.
“Another solid performance from my part,” said the Canadian. “My serve again worked really well today after that opening game, yes. I had many chances to get back in the first set, I didn’t. So I just needed to accept that, work my way into the match. But I had always the belief that I could find a way, that I would be able to get myself through this match and my belief was really high today.
“I’m happy with how I handled myself, with my attitude, and to be able to bounce back really well in the second set, to win a tough third set after having those set points on my racquet.
“Again, yeah, staying focused, staying positive helped me today to get through this match.”
“Obviously a very tough match,” said Tiafoe. “I thought we both played pretty well. Felix served insane tonight. I think that was the biggest difference, every time he needed it he came up with an ace or unreturnable, which made it very tough.
“But, yeah, I think that was the biggest difference. He served incredible tonight. From the back it was kind of even, but he just served incredible tonight.”
He’ll play 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz for a place in the semifinals.
No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina beat No. 12 seed Simona Halep for the first time at a major 6-3, 6-3. The win sets up a quarterfinal with 18-year-old Leylah Fernandez of Canada.
Regarding playing Fernandez:” (I) played once in Monterrey. She was striking the ball already good there. It was a tough match for me. I think was 7-5, 7-5, something like that. I really saw in that time that she can play great tennis. Right now we can see that she improved. She started to believe more, I guess, in herself. Beating Naomi, it’s a good sign that she’s playing well.”
“It’s important to focus on my game and to bring my best game to quarterfinal.”
In another round of 16 match No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka dispatched Elise Mertens 6-4, 6-1. Sabalenka, the highest women’s seed remaining. She’ll play the winner of the late night Barbora Krejcikova vs Garbine Muguruza match.
Spain’s Carols Alcaraz at 18, became the youngest US Open male quarterfinalist of the Open Era when he stopped German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk 5-7, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 6-0 on the Grandstand Court. He backed up his win over No. 3 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the third round. Alcaraz is the youngest man to win back-to-back five-setters at a major since Michael Chang, 16, at the 1988 US Open.
“I’m super excited to be in my first second week in the Grand Slam, so it’s amazing for me,” said Alcaraz,. “It’s a dream come true, no?”
“I didn’t expect to play quarterfinals here. So I think it’s a really good performance from me in these matches, so I’m really happy to play these kind of matches.”
Botic van de Zandschulp became just the third male qualifier in the in the Open Era to reach the quarterfinals of a major on Sunday when the Dutchman stopped No. 11 seed Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 5-7, 6-1 in the four-hour plus match in Louis Armstrong Stadium.
“I was surprised I won the first set for the first time here.” said the Dutchman. “I have to say I played in the first three sets till two sets for me, 4-2, I played pretty good, played flawlessly, I think.
“From there on, yeah, I start thinking maybe you can win the match, started to get a little bit nervous. Yeah, lost the third in 7-5 and in the fourth, yeah, same thing happened, I think, 5-4, two match points, then lost again 7-5.
“Yeah, I thought in the fifth I played my best tennis of the match. Played aggressively, and, yeah, I think in the end I deserved to win.”
Diego Schwartzman: “His tactic today was working perfectly. Maybe I had lucky in the third and fourth to continue playing the match today because he was in the score up, he was playing better than me.
“Then at the end I think he have lucky in a few lets, volleys. When you are in the fifth you cannot fail. If you fail, you’re out.
“I think he deserves the win. He played much better all the match. At the end I was fighting but it was not enough today.”
Van de Zandschulp will play the second seed Daniil Medvedev in the quarterfinals. The Russian beat Brit Dan Evans 6-3. 6-4, 6-3 in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
In the last match of the night ending after 1 a.m., Barbora Krejcikova, the Roland Garros champion won a very Topsy-turvy match against Garbine Muguruza 6-3, 7-6 (4). The Czech took a medical timeout at 6-5 in the second set and took her time in between points including when her opponent was serving. At the end of the match, Muguruza during her handshake at the end called Krejcikova ” so unprofessional.”
Krejcikova advances to play No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka in the quarterfinals.