US Open: It's the maple syrup! Fernandez revels in reaching Flushing Meadows semi-final

By Sports Desk September 07, 2021

US Open semi-finalist Leylah Fernandez joked Canada's staple sweet treat must be behind the country's emergence of talent after she continued her remarkable run at Flushing Meadows.

Fernandez – who turned 19 on Monday – beat world number five Elina Svitolina  6-3 3-6 7-6 (7-5) to book her spot in the last four in New York.

She is the youngest player to reach the semi-finals at the major since Maria Sharapova back in 2005, and has already beat defending champion Naomi Osaka and former world number one Angelique Kerber.

Fernandez won her first title earlier in the season, triumphing in Monterrey, but this was her first appearance in a grand slam quarter, and she had to come through it in a third-set tie-break – the seventh at this year's edition of the tournament, already more than in the previous three combined.

She is not the only youngster flying the flag for Canada, however, with Felix Auger-Aliassime in action in the men's side of the draw, facing Spain's Carlos Alcaraz – the youngest ever quarter-finalist at the US Open in the Open Era.

Asked in her on-court interview for the reason Canada are producing such talented youngsters, an ecstatic Fernandez quipped: "I would say it's the maple syrup! The Canadian maple syrup is very good!"

Explaining her win, Fernandez said: "I honestly have no idea what I'm feeling right now. I was so nervous, thank you so much to the crowd, the New York crowd, cheering me on, fighting for me, never giving up for me. Thanks to you I was able to push through today.

"Svitolina, she's a great player, she fought for everything, she runs for everything, she deserves to be in the quarter-finals and I'm honoured to have a fight with her.

"I told myself to trust my shots, trust that everything was going to go well and even if I lose, I had to go for it and I'm glad I did."

 

Fernandez is coached by her father, who was not in attendance at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

"He told me to go out there, have fun, fight for every ball, for every point," the teenager said.

"Today's your first quarter-final, don't make it your last, don't make it your last match over here, fight for your dream.

"My family tell me after every match to just enjoy it, tomorrow is a new day, I'll start from zero and work hard now."

Next up is a semi-final with either Aryna Sabelenka or Barbora Krejcikova, the winner of this year's French Open.

"I'm not going to think about it," Fernandez concluded. "I'm going to enjoy tonight, I'll leave the planning and strategy to my dad back home."

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