NEW YORK, USA — Filipina Canadian Leylah Fernandez admits she has had to pinch herself after she booked her spot in the US Open quarter-finals.
The unseeded teen Leylah Fernandez who shocked the world by eliminating Naomi Osaka from the US Open followed up that upset by defeating German 16th seed Angelique Kerber, a three-time Grand Slam champion on Sunday.
The teenager from Montreal, who turns 19 on Monday, rallied from a set down to pummel three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber on Sunday at a packed Louis Armstrong Stadium to vault into the U.S. Open quarterfinals with a 4-6, 7-6, 6-2 upset.
It was a classic battle of lefty sluggers who dazzled across the late afternoon. But Fernandez wore down the 33-year-old, No. 16 seed just like she did to Osaka on Friday night. She has now beaten two former U.S. Open champions back-to-back.
“I did have to pinch myself a little bit to see that it actually happened, but I knew that my level of tennis is there,’’ she said.
The age difference could have played in Fernandez’s favor in the dominant third set.
“I was honestly tired in the third set, but with that thought, I was telling myself, ‘If I’m tired, she must be exhausted.’ ” Fernandez said. “Just try to put one more ball back in as much as possible.’’
When Kerber hit a backhand on the run into the net on match point, a deafening roar went up in Armstrong Stadium. Fernandez is the youngest women’s quarterfinalist at the U.S. Open since 2016.
Like against Osaka, Fernandez lost the first set and then won the second-set tiebreaker convincingly.
“I think she has a great future,’’ said Kerber, the 2016 Open champion. “She has a lot of power in her forehand and she’s going for her winners. I think she’s always also enjoying her tennis out there. I think she can go really far in the next few years.
“She had nothing to lose today. … It’s just a start of a great career.’’
Fernandez had never gone past the third round at a grand slam before and she is enjoying the moment as she lowkey celebrates her birthday.