Aryna Sabalenka and Leylah Fernandez set the first women’s semifinal at the US Open.
The surprise Fernandez refused to back off the baseline against No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina in their quarterfinal. The Canadian, who just turned 19 on Monday, was the steadier and headier player for a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5) win in 2 hours, 24 minutes.
“Today’s match was definitely one of the hardest, not only tennis-wise but also mentally and emotionally,” said Fernandez. “Svitolina is a great player, great fighter. I was glad I was able to fight in the first set. In the second set she upped her level and I unfortunately made a few mistakes on key moments. I’m glad I was able to recuperate for the third set. The tiebreaker, too. A little bit lucky at 5-All, but I’ll take all the luck I can get. I was glad I was able to push through the finish line.”
After a comprehensive first set, Svitolina started forcing things in the second, but the Ukrainian couldn’t sustain it.
Playing without pressure, the youngster avoided earlier peril and stormed ahead 5-2. But with the lead, the pressure changed and Svitolina came back to level.
Svitolina, though, tossed in some errors and Fernandez took advantage to take the biggest win of her life.
Fernandez becomes the third Canadian to make the US Open semifinals, and that includes Bianca Andreescu who was also 19 when she won two years ago.
“We want to make a difference,” Fernandez said of her and countryman Felix Auger-Aliassime’s success. “We want to make an impact in tennis. This tournament just proves how well we’re adapting to everything.”
The lefty also ran through Naomi Osaka, Angelique Kerber and now Svitolina in three sets.
In the evening, No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka played lie the tournament favorite pounding a flat French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova 6-1, 6-4.
“It’s was a tough one because a lot of things didn’t work today well for me but I’m really happy that, again, I could found the way to win this one,” Sabalenka said.
After, the second-seed had to go out to the practice courts to work on things.
“I think my team wasn’t happy with the level today,” she said. “No, but for real, I feel like I didn’t move well today and I needed extra balls kind of a little bit to move, a little bit to feel my legs, to feel the move, to feel the court. Also my serve was really I wouldn’t say terrible but was really bad today. I was trying to find the rhythm.”
Sabalenka will now turn her attention to the teen Fernandez.
“I was following her games,” Sabalenka said. “She’s playing well, moving well. I would say it’s nothing to lose for her. She’s a great player. She’s fighting for every point. The crowd are there and they are supporting her really loud.
“It will be interesting one. Really looking forward for this match.”
Tomorrow, 18-year-old Emma Raducanu will hope to join fellow teen Fernandez in the final four, but the Brit will have to get through a very in-form Belinda Bencic who won the gold medal last month.
In the evening, Maria Sakkari meets former US Open finalist Karolina Pliskova.
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