Filipina-Canadian Teen Leylah Fernandez scores shocking upsets against Naomi Osaka and Angelique Kerber in her Grand Slam debut

Filipina-Canadian teen Leylah Fernandez is advancing to her first Grand Slam quarterfinal in style, having defeated two previous U.S. Open champions — all before she turned 19 on Monday. 

Back-to-back upsets: Fresh from her stunning upset of 2020 champion Naomi Osaka on Friday, Fernandez eliminated three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber on Sunday, reported Associated Press.

  • Kerber acknowledged Fernandez’ potential in the post-match interview, saying, “If she plays like this, consistently plays the whole year, the next tournaments like this, the next rounds, I think she has a great future.” 
  • Fernandez, who joined the tournament unseeded and with a world ranking of 73, will face No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina in the quarterfinals this week. 
  • If she wins, Fernandez will then take on the winner of the match between 2021 French Open champion and 8th seed Czech star Barbora Krejčíková and Belarusian 2nd seed Belarus Aryna Sabalenka. 

Rising star: Fernandez, whose mother is Fil-Canadian and father is Ecuadorian, turned professional at age 17 in 2019. She has been working her way up the ranks among tennis stars one competition at a time, reported Rappler.

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  • Born and raised in Montreal, Canada, the athlete first picked up a tennis racket to play at age 7 and had already been winning national competitions at age 12.
  • Her family soon moved to Florida so she and her younger sister could focus on their budding tennis careers.  
  • In 2019, Fernandez defeated fellow Canadian Carson Branstine to win her first professional title in the Gatineau Challenger.
  • She then captured the 2019 French Open Girls’ Singles tennis title by winning against American Emma Navarro in the final. She became the first Canadian to win a girls’ junior Grand Slam title since Eugenie Bouchard won in Wimbledon in 2012.
  • Fernandez made her women’s Grand Slam debut in the 2020 Australian Open but was eliminated in the opening round of the main draw.
  • She managed a third-round finish in the 2020 French Open. She also dropped out of her 2020 U.S. Open campaign in the second round.

Naomi Osaka takes a break: Following Friday’s loss, Osaka gave an impassioned message about her current feelings on competing in tennis matches, the Associated Press reported.

  • During the press interview, the tennis star lamented how she doesn’t “feel happy” when she wins, feeling it is “more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad.”
  • Osaka revealed that she doesn’t know when she will be playing tennis again, and later announced that she’s going to “take a break from playing for a while.”

Featured Image via U.S. Open Tennis Championships (left) and (right)

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