US Open: Teenage sensation Fernandez stuns Sabalenka to storm into maiden slam final

By Sports Desk September 09, 2021

Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez shocked US Open second seed Aryna Sabalenka 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 6-4 to reach her first grand slam final on Thursday.

Fernandez continued her giant-slaying run at Flushing Meadows, where the 19-year-old sensation has stunned defending champion Naomi Osaka, 2016 winner Angelique Kerber, fifth seed Elina Svitolina and Sabalenka en route to the decider.

Fellow teenage sensation Emma Raducanu or 17th seed Maria Sakkari await Fernandez in Saturday's final in New York.

The defeat is a bitter blow for Belarusian star Sabalenka, who has never reached a major final, having also lost in the final four at Wimbledon this year.

The semi-final was full of momentum swings, but 52-23 unforced errors and 8-2 double faults ultimately were costly for Sabalenka, who lost the final game on her serve to love to hand Fernandez victory.

Sabalenka had raced to an early 3-0 lead inside 10 minutes on Arthur Ashe Stadium, dominating with her power, missing only one of her first 13 first serves, before Fernandez settled into the contest.

Trailing 4-2, Fernandez – the youngest woman to beat multiple top-five opponents at the same slam since Serena Williams in 1999 – broke back as Sabalenka's first serve let her down, with the former converting the third of three break points.

Fernandez, who survived a break point to level it up at 4-4, eventually closed out the first set in a tie-break.

Sabalenka made a statement by breaking to love in the opening game of the second set, but Fernandez responded with a break of her own to level it at 2-2.

The second seemed destined for another tie-break, however Sabalenka broke to lead 5-4 and she never looked back as the 23-year-old forced a deciding set.

Fernandez seized control, breaking Sabalenka to move 4-2 ahead, though the latter responded immediately, despite the teenager taking her service game to deuce after trailing 0-40.

However, Fernandez held serve at 5-4 before breaking Sabalenka again to love to claim another memorable victory at the US Open.

Data Slam: Oh, Canada!

Fernandez's victory marks the second time in three years that a Canadian teenager has reached the US Open final, with then-19-year-old Bianca Andreescu beating Serena Williams in 2019. Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime remains alive in the men's semi-finals too.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Fernandez – 26/23
Sabalenka – 45/52

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Fernandez – 6/2
Sabalenka – 10/8

BREAK POINTS WON

Fernandez – 4/7
Sabalenka – 4/11

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    Miami. That's where this started. Where Carlos Alcaraz and Iga Swiatek were both champions at the same tournament for the first time.

    Expect it to become, if not the norm, a regular occurrence over the coming years. Like Serena and Roger, and like Pete and Steffi before them, Carlos and Iga could well become the tennis royalty that reign above all others on the tour.

    The 19-year-old Alcaraz heads to Roland Garros with four titles on the ATP tour this season, while 20-year-old Swiatek has five on the WTA circuit. Those are both tour-leading figures, with Alcaraz triumphing in Rio de Janeiro, Miami, Barcelona and Madrid, while Swiatek has won in Doha, Indian Wells, Miami, Stuttgart and Rome.

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    Martina Navratilova, who landed the French Open singles at the height of her career in 1982 and 1984, won 74 consecutive tour matches in the latter year. That puts Swiatek's current streak of 28 into some perspective, albeit the young Pole is just seven away from matching the longest run on the WTA circuit since the start of the year 2000.

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    The first thing to point out is that the French Open women's singles title has been won by eight different players in the last eight years.

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