US Open: Fernandez feeds off Flushing Meadows crowd to 'put on a show' against Osaka

By Sports Desk September 04, 2021

Leylah Fernandez revealed how the energy of the Flushing Meadows crowd helped power her to a stunning comeback win over Naomi Osaka at the US Open. 

Reigning champion Osaka appeared on course to progress when up a set and serving for the match at Arthur Ashe Stadium, only to let the opportunity slip away. 

The world number three lost her serve and then also her composure in the tie-break that followed, throwing her racquet on more than one occasion as Fernandez prevailed to force a decider. 

The Canadian teenager broke immediately at the start of the third set and retained that advantage through to the finish, allowing her to complete a famous victory in New York. 

"I wasn't really focused on Naomi, I was focused on my game and what I needed to do," Fernandez told the media. 

"Having the crowd there, supporting me, backing me up after every point, it was amazing. It gave me the energy to keep fighting, keep working, keep running for those balls that she hit.

"I was just glad that I was able to put on a show for everyone who came to watch."

The 18-year-old also explained how she has always had a competitive streak, adding: "From a very young age, I knew I was able to beat anyone who was in front of me.

"Even playing different sports, I was always that competitive and saying I was going to win against them, win against my dad in soccer, even though that was impossible, I've always had that belief, tried to use that in every match when I go on. I guess today that belief came true."

Osaka announced in her post-match media duties that she plans to "take a break from playing for a while", as well as apologising for her outbursts on court.

She received a warning for hitting a ball into the stands but appeared set to launch a fightback of her own in the deciding set, only for the impressive Fernandez to hold firm.

"I've watched her win the US Open, I've watched her win the Australian Open the very next year – just seeing her, learning from her, has helped shape my game," Fernandez said of Osaka.

"She is a great example for anybody on Tour, and all the little girls in the world.  

"I'm just glad I had the opportunity to play against her, show everyone I am also able to compete against the best players out there."

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    Barty ended Australia's wait for a singles champion in Melbourne after a 6-3 7-6 (7-2) win over Danielle Collins in the final on Saturday.

    The world number one dealt with the pressure of such high expectations to become the first local Australian Open singles champion in 44 years.

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    And Barty's confidence was well-founded. She was far too good for each of her opponents, losing just 21 games on her way to the decider before facing a tougher test against Collins.

    Barty became the second active women's singles player to win a grand slam on every surface after adding the Australian Open to her 2019 French Open and 2021 Wimbledon titles, joining the great Serena Williams.

    Her coach, Craig Tyzzer, warned on Australia Day that Barty had "played better at times" in her career. But there was a steely resolve about Barty, whose focus and concentration was even more impenetrable than her serve throughout the fortnight. The emotions were released after championship point was converted with a cross-court forehand pass.

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