Luisa Morales – Philstar.com
September 8, 2021 | 7:33am
Leylah Fernandez of Canada celebrates after defeating Elina Svitolina of Ukraine during her Women’s Singles quarterfinals match on Day Nine of the 2021 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 07, 2021 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.
Elsa / Getty Images North America / via AFP
MANILA, Philippines — Leylah Fernandez has clinched a spot in the semifinals of the 2021 US Open, becoming the youngest player in the last four since Maria Sharapova in 2005.
But the historic feat didn’t come easy, especially in the quarterfinal, which was arguably her toughest match in the tournament.
Pitted against World No. 5 Elina Svitolina, Fernandez needed to pull out all the stops against the fierce competitor.
Faced with comebacks, erased leads and tiebreaks, Fernandez played with the poise of a tennis player well beyond her years.
The secret, according to the Fil-Canadian, was simply her confidence in what she could do.
“Just to trust myself,” Fernandez said of what she told herself each time Svitolina looked to be in control of the match.
“Because Svitolina, she’s a great player, she fought for everything, she runs for everything, she deserves to be in the quarterfinals,” she added.
Rather than hanging her head, the US Open teen sensation just continued to play her brand of tennis.
It didn’t matter what the person on the other side of the net did.
“I just told myself to trust my shots, to trust that everything is gonna go well, [and] even if I lose, I’m gonna go for it,” she said.
Fernandez wouldn’t lose, though, and would slay her second WTA Top 5 opponent in the same major — something that hadn’t been done since 17-year-old Serena Williams at the 1999 US Open.
Whatever happens next to Fernandez in the last four, it has already been a tournament of the ages for the Fil-Canadian teen.