Fernandez’s stunning US Open run continues

Leylah Fernandez of Canada celebrates her win over Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus at the US Open
Leylah Fernandez knocked off No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka on Thursday night, earning her spot in the US Open final on Saturday. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Leylah Fernandez’s dream run at the US Open isn’t over just yet.

Though she needed a second to get going on Thursday night, the Canadian teenager played her way into her first Grand Slam final.

Fernandez beat No. 2 Aryna Sabelanka 7-6 (7-3), 4-6, 6-4 in a nearly two and a half hour match at Arthur Ashe Stadium, marking her fourth upset win of the tournament and her deepest run at a Grand Slam by far.

“I have no idea,” she said, laughing, when asked how she pulled off the win.

Fernandez rallies back after slow start

Sabalenka wasted absolutely no time on Thursday night. She jumped to a 3-0 lead almost instantly in their first set, and gave up just two points in those three games.Though Fernandez snuck out a win in the fourth game, Sabalenka won four straight points and finished the fifth game out with an ace to take the 4-1 lead.

That, however, is when Fernandez found her footing.

She rattled off wins in four of the next five games to tie things up 5-5 — clearly putting pressure on Sabalenka after an easy start. Fernandez forced a tiebreak, too, after winning a tight game to make it 6-6.

Fernandez, just like she has in all four of her previous tiebreaks in New York, quickly closed it out 7-3 to take the first set.

Sabalenka came out strong in the second set once again, and jumped up 2-0 early. But a big Fernandez rally brought her out of the hole and up 3-2. Sabalnnka, at the break, took her frustrations out on her racket by smashing it down onto the court and destroying it — something that earned her a code violation.

After a 2-2 start in the third, Fernandez pulled out a perfect fifth game before beating Sabalenka in a tight sixth to take a 4-2 lead — putting the finals within her reach. Though Sabalenka pushed back to tie things up once more, Fernandez held on and broke one final serve — which was full of Sabalenka errors — to take the third set 6-4 and secure her spot in the finals.

“I just wanted to be in the finals,” she said. “I fought for every point. I don’t know how I got that last point in, but I’m glad it was.”

Fernandez — who also beat No. 3 Naomi Osaka, No. 16 Angelique Kerber and No. 5 Elina Svitolina at the tournament — will now take on either Emma Raducanu or Maria Sakkari in the finals on Saturday.