Laval’s Fernandez beats Osaka in 3rd round

Leylah Fernandez showed she has the skills to compete with the world’s best on Friday when she defeated the defending U.S. Open champion in front of a raucous Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd.

The Laval native, ranked 73rd worldwide, managed to upset Japan’s Naomi Osaka 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-4 to reach the fourth round of the prestigious Grand Slam tournament.

Fernandez, who will celebrate her 19th birthday on Monday, had never faced a player as highly ranked as Osaka, the world’s third-ranked racket.

After finishing off her opponent, she paraded before the crowd with her fists in the air.

Her lack of experience never showed. Fernandez hit 28 winners against 24 unforced errors, while Osaka hit 37 winners but 35 unforced errors.

In the fourth round, Fernandez will face 16th-seeded German Angelique Kerber. Kerber, the 2016 New York champion, defeated American Sloane Stephens, the 2017 champion, 5-7, 6-2, 6-3.

Fernandez showed composure against Osaka, holder of four major titles. The two players remained neck-and-neck in the first set until Fernandez found herself on serve at 5-5.

Osaka finally broke Fernandez’ serve at zero, before quickly closing the books on her serve. Osaka won the final nine points of the first set.

Clearly unperturbed by the situation, Fernandez started the second set strong, winning the first game at zero.

Both players continued to give nothing away on serve. Fernandez found herself in hot water again on serve at 5-5. She saved two break points before falling victim to a brilliant backhand winner from Osaka.

With Osaka on serve for the match, Fernandez managed to get her first two break points of the match and converted the second one when Osaka missed a forehand. A tiebreak was therefore necessary.

Fernandez won the first four points of the tiebreaker and Osaka threw her racquet hard against the ground in frustration. She threw it a second time after losing the fifth point. A final set was necessary.

Fernandez broke Osaka’s serve in the first game of the third set. She then did what she had to do to win the match.

The match ended when Osaka missed a forehand.

In the men’s draw, No. 12 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime faced No.18 Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain in a third round match.

In men’s doubles, British Columbian Vasek Pospisil and Dane Frederik Nielsen won their first-round match 6-3, 7-6 (3) over American Marcos Giron and Sweden’s Andre Goransson.

–This report was first published in French by The Canadian Press on Sept. 3. 


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