‘I would imagine myself playing against Serena or Venus Williams’ – says teenage sensation Leylah Fernandez
Leylah Fernandez battled past fifth seed Elina Svitolina to reach US Open quarter-finals,the 19-year-old Canadian became the youngest player to reach the US Open semifinals since Maria Sharapova in 2005.
Fernandez looked to be cruising to a three sets victory when 6-3, 3-6, 5-2, but Svitolina rallied to force a deciding set tie-break. Buoyed by huge support on Arthur Ashe Stadium, Fernandez produced a stunning winner at 5-5 before serving out for a place in the last four.
The Canadian sensation had already beaten defending champion Naomi Osaka and former US Open champion Angelique Kerber in deciding sets.
During her press conference, Fernandez spoke about dreaming of playing the top players on the show courts.
“From a very young age I’ve always wanted to be on the first court playing in front of my parents,” Fernandez said. “Over the years I’ve been learning how to use the crowd’s energy, how to use it to my advantage even if they’re cheering against me, to use it and have fun on the court.”
The 19-year-old declared that despite some poor results in 2021, she continued to work hard and was confident that positive results would follow.
“After my win in Monterrey, I was training well, playing well. Just a few bad matches here and there,” the Canadian said. “I always went back to work. Went back home to work harder, try to improve. I was glad that every match that I played I was improving little by little. Today or this whole few weeks I was able to showcase all the sacrifices I’ve made the past year so that I can get to this point.”
Fernandez revealed she imagined herself playing the Williams sisters and Justine Henin on the biggest stage.
“I’ve imagined myself playing in every tournament, every Grand Slam, at the biggest stage,” revealed Leylah Fernandez. “When I was younger, since I used Justine Henin as a great example, I would imagine myself playing against her. I would also imagine myself playing against Serena and Venus [Williams], and the past few years playing against [Naomi] Osaka in a big tournament.”
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