Leylah Fernandez US Open 2021

‘I don’t understand’ – Seven-time Slam champion blown away by Leylah Fernandez

Leylah Fernandez has been producing some astonishing tennis in New York, and the 19-year-old has baffled even this tennis legend.

The Canadian celebrates her 19th birthday today, as well as a first Slam quarter-final after rallying to defeat 2016 US Open champion Angelique Kerber 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2.

Fernandez has in fact pulled off back-to-back wins against former US Open champions, dismissing 2018 and 2020 champion Naomi Osaka in the previous round.

Even Mats Wilander, a teen sensation back in his day when he won the 1982 French Open as a 17-year-old, cannot comprehend the way in which Fernandez has gone about her run.

“I mean, I don’t even know where to start to be honest,” Wilander told Barbara Schett on Eurosport coverage after the Kerber victory.

“I can start with the attitude. I don’t understand how at 18, of course you embrace the crowd, but she’s laughing, she’s smiling when she plays a great point.

“And she’s fist-pumping and she gets the crowd going. And then let’s talk about her technical part. She has great technique everywhere. She can hit drop shots, she can hit drive volleys.

“Her tactical skills. She plays the right shot pretty much all the time.”

Ranked at world number 73, Fernandez is playing just her seventh Grand Slam main draw. Previously, the teenager had only been as far as the third round, coming at Roland Garros in 2020.

Along with fellow teens Emma Raducanu and Carlos Alcaraz, the Canadian is part of a US Open that is proving highly volatile and open for young talent.

Her next opponent comes in the form of 2019 US Open semi-finalist and world number five Elina Svitolina.


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