US Open Day 9: Teenager Fernandez through to semis
US Open Day 9: Teenager Fernandez through to semis
Leylah Fernandez extended her remarkable giant-killing run with a thrilling win over No.5 seed Elina Svitolina in the US Open quarterfinals.
The Canadian teenager won a third-set tiebreak to back up victories over multiple major champions Naomi Osaka and Angelique Kerber and reach her first Grand Slam semifinal, where she will meet No.2 seed Aryna Sabalenka – a straight-sets winner over Barbora Krejcikova on Tuesday night.
In the first of Tuesday’s four singles quarterfinals, Daniil Medvedev ended the run of Dutch qualifier Botic van de Zandschulp to reach his third straight US Open semifinal.
Medvedev will next face Felix Auger-Aliassime, who was leading 6-3 3-1 before Spanish teen star Carlos Alcaraz retired with a right adductor injury.
Fernandez wins quarterfinal thriller
The 19-year-old Canadian did well to maintain her composure in the biggest match of her career after letting slip a 5-2 lead in the final set.
She served for the match at 5-3, but Svitolina, riding a nine-match winning streak, extended rallies and forced herself to be aggressive to level the match.
But the Ukrainian was always playing catch-up.
Fernandez won an enthralling 23-shot rally on her way to holding for 6-5, and then surged ahead 4-1 in the subsequent tiebreak.
Svitolina again competed solidly to draw level at 5-5 but then poked a tentative volley into the open court which allowed Fernandez to drive a passing shot winner down the line to reach match point.
The world No.73 converted when Svitolina drove a return long, a result sending the Ashe crowd into raptures.
Later, Sabalenka stormed to a 6-1 6-4 win over a listless Krejcikova, who admitted her “tank was empty” after a breakthrough season during which she won her first Grand Slam singles trophy at Roland Garros and cracked the top 10.
Despite Krejcikova finishing the match with 29 unforced errors against just 14 winners, Sabalenka was nonetheless an impressive performer under lights.
The Belarusian served out victory to love – capping it with an ace – to progress to her second straight major semifinal.
Stat of the day
With her victory, the inexperienced Fernandez has advanced to just her third tour-level semifinal.
But unlike the previous two, at minor WTA 250-level events in Acapulco and Monterrey, this semifinal has come on the Grand Slam stage.
To arrive to this point, Fernandez has beaten Ana Konjuh, Kaia Kanepi, Osaka, Kerber and Svitolina – all current or former top-20 players who have all reached at least the quarterfinal stage at major tournaments.
Medvedev into third straight US Open semifinal
Medvedev’s love affair with New York continued, but he was forced to work harder for victory on Tuesday.
The Russian had not dropped a set this fortnight and extended his streak to 14 consecutive sets won when he took a comfortable two-set lead over Van de Zandschulp.
But the world No.117 rebounded and pushed Medvedev in an absorbing encounter before the second seed prevailed 6-3 6-0 4-6 7-5.
While both men struck 36 winners, Medvedev was superior on serve and limited his unforced errors to 24.
A US Open finalist in 2019, Medvedev has built an exceptional 17-2 record in the past three years at the tournament.
And he will look to improve that further against Auger-Aliassime, who was controlling the match against Alcaraz before injury intervened – no doubt brought on by the fact the youngster was forced to come through back-to-back five setters to arrive at this point.
It marks a career-best Grand Slam result for Canada’s Auger-Aliassime, bettering his recent Wimbledon quarterfinal breakthrough.
Tweets of the day
Big day for Canadian tennis! Congrats to @leylahfernandez, who’s heading to the semi-finals at the @USopen, and good luck to @felixtennis in your quarter-final match tonight. We’re cheering you on from home!🎾— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) September 7, 2021
1 year ago ... https://t.co/R7zWLBsOM7— Kirsten Flipkens (@FlipperKF) September 7, 2021
Doubles: Stosur, Peers advance in great day for Aussies
Sam Stosur and Zhang Shuai continued their excellent form with a 6-2 6-3 quarterfinal triumph over Stosur’s fellow Australian Storm Sanders and her American teammate Caroline Dolehide.
Stosur and Zhang, the Australian Open 2019 champions who also won recently in Cincinnati, are now on a nine-match winning streak.
On the 10th anniversary of Stosur’s singles title in New York, she and Zhang are now two wins away from the doubles trophy.
In the semifinals they will face either No.7 seeds Desirae Krawczyk and Alexa Guarachi Mathison, or Romanians Monica Niculescu and Elena-Gabriela Ruse.
Another Australian, John Peers, won through to the men's doubles semifinals, combining with Filip Polasek to beat French stars Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-2 6-3.
Fellow Aussies Matt Ebden and Max Purcell came close to joining them in the last four, but despite holding four match points in the final-set tiebreak, they went down to formidable fourth seeds Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury.
Rajeev and Salisbury, the AO 2020 winners, next face Americans Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey, while Peers and Polasek take on Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares.
Quotes of the day
“It's great for Canada. It's great for Quebec. We're both born in Montreal. I mean, I never thought a day like this would come. Both a little girl and a little boy from Montreal, both at the same time in the semifinals of the US Open. It's special for us. I hope the people back home appreciate the moment also. But it would be amazing if we were both in a final, right?”
- Felix Auger-Aliassime, after joining fellow Canadian Leylah Fernandez at the semifinal stage of the US Open.
“Second semifinal, and hopefully I can keep it up. That's amazing. I'm really proud of myself and I'm really proud of my team that they always working, they always trying to find things where I can improve. I'm here in the semifinal and I have another chance to show my best and to show my level on the court.”
- Aryna Sabalenka, who has reached back-to-back major semifinals at Wimbledon and the US Open after never previously going beyond the fourth round at a Grand Slam tournament.
“I see somewhere I played 104 or 105 matches lately. It's actually a lot matches. I didn't expect I'm going to be playing on such a high level. At some point for sure I got to stop, I got to rest.”
- a fatigued Barbora Krejcikova, who had won 29 of her past 32 matches ahead of her quarterfinal loss to Sabalenka and who had also been winning major doubles titles in addition to her singles success in 2021.
“I always said that experience helps me. So you never know, because you're gonna play tough opponents, semis or final. Who knows? Maybe Novak. But first of course Felix or Carlos. Whoever wins gonna be on huge fire. You know they are much younger than even me, even. I'm not old (smiling).”
- Daniil Medvedev, aged 25, is accumulating experience at the majors after reaching his third straight US Open semifinal.
"I've imagined myself playing on every tournament, every Grand Slam, at the biggest stage. When I was younger, since I used Justine Henin as a great example, I would imagine myself playing against her. I would also imagine myself playing against Serena and Venus, and the past few years playing against Osaka in a big tournament."
- Leylah Fernandez, who beat Osaka en route to her first Grand Slam semifinal at the US Open.
Day 10: Ones to watch
Singles quarterfinal action continues in New York with an order of play headlined by the blockbuster between Novak Djokovic and Matteo Berrettini.
Their Wimbledon final rematch is scheduled for second on Ashe at night after the battle between No.4 seed Karolina Pliskova and 17th seed Maria Sakkari, who will hope to rebound physically and mentally after her epic fourth-round defeat of Bianca Andreescu.
The day’s play begins with a quarterfinal pitting Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic against British teen star Emma Raducanu, before another Olympic champion, Alexander Zverev, takes on Lloyd Harris.
South Africa’s Harris, through to his first major quarterfinal, will attempt to snap Zverev’s 15-match win streak.