Sat. Sep 18th, 2021

Just days after her 19th birthday, Filipino-Canadian teen Leylah Fernandez edged No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka in three sets Thursday night to advance to the U.S. Open women’s tennis final.

(Photo Courtesy: The Manila Times)

The unseeded Fernandez claimed a 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-4 semifinals win over Sabalenka inside Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, N.Y., to reach her first Grand Slam final. It was the 73rd-ranked Fernandez’s fourth straight three-set victory over a seeded opponent.

Fernandez defeated No. 3 Naomi Osaka, No. 16 Angelique Kerber and No. 5 Elina Svitolina en route to her first major final.

“That’s years and years and years of hard work and tears and blood,” Fernandez said. “Everything. On court, off court. Sacrifices.”

She also thanked her countrymen in the Philippines for supporting her.

“I’m so happy to hear that everyone in the Philippines is cheering for me and supporting me. So thank you,” she added.

The left-handed Fernandez, who could give Canada its second U.S. Open women’s championship in the past three years, will face either 18-year-old qualifier Emma Raducanu of Great Britain or No. 17 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece in Saturday’s women’s final.

On the men’s side of the U.S. Open semifinals, top-seeded Novak Djokovic plays No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev on Friday. In the other matchup, second-seeded Daniil Medvedev faces No. 12 Felix Auger-Aliassime.

The U.S. Open men’s final is scheduled for Sunday.

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