US Open: Giant-slaying Fernandez pinching herself after ousting two slam champs en route to QFs

By Sports Desk September 05, 2021

Canadian sensation Leylah Fernandez said she is pinching herself after continuing her fairytale run with a shock last-16 win over Angelique Kerber at the US Open.

After stunning defending champion Naomi Osaka in a third-round boilover at Flushing Meadows, giant-slaying teenager Fernandez conquered three-time grand slam winner Kerber 4-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 en route to the quarter-finals.

Kerber – the 2018 US Open champion – won the opening set in New York, however 18-year-old Fernandez staged a remarkable comeback on the eve of her 19th birthday to reach her first slam quarter-final.

"I did have to pinch myself a little bit to see that it actually happened, but like I said, I knew that my tennis, my level of tennis is there," Fernandez said post-match. "It's just a moment of time, opportunity, and I'm glad that I was able to get this opportunity now and that I was able to showcase what I can do in front of these players.

"Even if I would have lost, I would have been proud of myself with the way that I played, the way that I fought. I was lucky enough to get the win today and just getting this experience.

"It's my first fourth-round quarterfinals in a grand slam. I'm just going to enjoy it at 100 per cent, and tomorrow is going to be a new day."

Fernandez, who hit 45 winners to 34 unforced errors – added: "The match was incredible. I was playing well in the first set.

"Unfortunately I did a few mistakes. Her, as a great player, great champion, she noticed and she took advantage of it. I was able to refocus and fight back for the second.

"In the third, I was just enjoying every moment of it. Honestly, the crowd has been amazing, so thanks to them I was able to win."

"I'm just super happy," she continued. "I'm going to enjoy tonight as much as I can, and then once I'm off to bed, I'll try to forget about it so that I can get ready for tomorrow."

Related items

  • Australian Open: Halep in 'good spot' for deep run after cruising into fourth round Australian Open: Halep in 'good spot' for deep run after cruising into fourth round

    Two-time major winner Simona Halep says she is playing the best she has for months after cruising into the 2022 Australian Open fourth round with a straight-forward win over Danka Kovinic.

    Halep, who is the 14th seed after an injury-ravaged 2021, eased past the Montenegrin 6-2 6-1 on Saturday. The former world number one has dropped only 14 games on her way to clinching a spot in the second week in Melbourne.

    The Romanian, who was the runner-up at the 2018 Australian Open, won the Melbourne Summer Set 1 title and is re-discovering her best form.

    "(This is the best I've played in) the last months," Halep said after Saturday's win.

    "I feel great physically, first of all. Mentally I'm confident and also strong, I would say.

    "Feeling the game. Feeling joy out there. I think that helps me to be positive and to be confident that I have a chance every time I step on the court.

    "I feel I'm in a good spot. I really trust that I can play good tennis here."

    Halep will play Frenchwoman Alize Cornet in the fourth round on Monday, with the Romanian having won 11 consecutive sets.

    Cornet had knocked out third seed Garbine Muguruza in the second round, while sixth seed Anett Kontaveit and US Open winner Emma Raducanu have also bowed out in Halep's quarter of the draw giving her a good shot at a deep run.

    "I feel fresh. I feel that the pressure is off," Halep said. "I feel also that I have expectations from myself, but they are good expectations because I have worked a lot in the off-season.

    "I have no injuries. That helps me to be in a good spot mentally and also with confidence."

  • Australian Open: Mannarino beats Karatsev in 02:33 finish, drops F-bomb Australian Open: Mannarino beats Karatsev in 02:33 finish, drops F-bomb

    Adrian Mannarino stumbled across the winning line at 02:33 local time as his late-night efforts at the Australian Open proved too much for last year's surprise package Aslan Karatsev.

    A battling third-round performance from Frenchman Mannarino sets up a showdown with Rafael Nadal next, and the 33-year-old will hope he has sufficient energy left for that daunting task.

    The left-hander clinched victory after four hours and 38 minutes of hard duelling with Karatsev on Margaret Court Arena, with a scattering of fans staying until the bitter end, long enough to hear Mannarino swear during his victory interview.

    The watershed in Melbourne had of course long passed by the time Karatsev netted a backhand on match point.

    After his 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 6-4 win, world number 69 Mannarino said: "I was enjoying it, you know. I love rallying, and I was just feeling in shape today, it was pretty cool to play."

    But he was aware the match was running well into the early hours, saying: "I realised I was just looking at the clock sometimes, and I was thinking, 'F***'. I don't feel good to be honest'.

    "I'm kind of exhausted. But it was cool, and I was so focused on what I had to do. I was not thinking about the fact I was tired.

    "I was like, 'Okay, go get the next point'. The crowd was cool. Some people had a couple of drinks, I guess, and were commentating more than anybody."

    Mannarino's win took him into the fourth round in Australia for the first time, and it meant he accounted for the 18th seed, a player who won the Sydney Classic last Saturday.

    Karatsev reached the semi-finals at Melbourne Park last year as a virtual unknown, before going on to establish himself over the course of the season.

    Remarkably, this Friday night into Saturday morning epic was far from the latest finish in Australian Open history, with Lleyton Hewitt having won a five-setter against Marcos Baghdatis at 04:34 local time in 2008.

  • Australian Open: 'Nights like this mean everything' – Nadal Australian Open: 'Nights like this mean everything' – Nadal

    Australian Open favourite Rafael Nadal reflected on a "very special week" after he progressed to the fourth round in Melbourne for the 15th time in his career.

    Nadal cruised into a two-set lead against Karen Khachanov on Friday, though the Spaniard had to overcome a third-set fightback to win 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-1.

    The 35-year-old - who triumphed at the Melbourne Summer Set earlier in January - has won all six of the matches he has played so far in 2022.

    Nadal has endured a difficult time with injuries in recent seasons but, with Novak Djokovic out of the picture after his deportation from Australia this week, he has a record 21st grand slam triumph firmly in his sights.

    "It is a very special week for me, coming back," said Nadal, who was out of action from August until December, when he played in an exhibition event in Dubai.

    "Every single time I am able to play here is very special. I played against a great player and a good friend on Tour. It was my best match since I have come back without a doubt.

    "I have gone through some very tough times over the past year, but nights like tonight mean everything.

    "I keep fighting and going every day. I put a lot of effort in to be back with where I am today, so I am happy."

    Nadal has won all eight matches against Russian Khachanov, and he will face Adrian Mannarino, whose four-set win over Aslan Karatsev concluded late into the Melbourne night.

    He may only have won the Australian Open on one occasion, in 2009, but only Roger Federer (18) has reached the fourth round in Melbourne on more occasions than Nadal.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.