By Adrian Stewart Co
Leylah Fernandez advanced to the semifinals of the 2021 US Open women’s singles after stunning World No. 5 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5), in the quarterfinals on Tuesday night (Wednesday in the Philippines) at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City.
The Filipina-Canadian netter was pushed to the limit against Svitolina to register her third consecutive upset win after ousting former US Open champs Naomi Osaka and Angelique Kerber.
Ahead 5-2 in the winner-take-all third set, the 19-year-old Fernandez needed to fend off a strong fightback by Svitolina, who notched third straight wins to force a tiebreak at 6-6.
In the tiebreak, Fernandez surged to a 4-1 advantage but Svitolina countered with a rally to once again tie the score at 5-5. The Filipina-Canadian, however, was not denied as she racked up two more wins.
Fernandez, whose mother traced her roots from Leyte and Ilocos Norte, hopes to continue her Cinderella run in the US Open as she faces the winner of Barbora Krejcikova-Aryna Sabalenka encounter in the semifinals.
Meanwhile, Alex Eala bucked a slow start to beat American Charlotte Owensby, 6-3, 6-3, in the second round of the 2021 US Open Girl’s Singles at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City.
Eala, who drew a bye in the first round of the competition, struggled early in the first set as she fell 0-2 before breaking Owensby’s serve in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead.
The 16-year-old Rafael Nadal Academy scholar then kept her momentum for the remainder of the first set as she then string two more victories to complete her fightback.
Eala, however, faced the same problem in the second set as Owensby surged to a 2-0 set lead before the Quezon City-native won six of the next seven games to finish the sweep of the American netter.
Eala, who is in search of her first-ever singles Grand Slam trophy, will next face Michaela Laki of Greece in the Round of 16. Laki defeated USA’s Elizabeth Coleman, 6-0, 6-4, in the second round.
Apart from singles, Eala is also campaigning in US Open Girls doubles event, where she and her partner Hanne Vandewinkel are waiting for their second round foe after drawing an opening round bye./ASC, WDJ