Leylah Fernandez, 19, reaches US Open SF

New York, Sep 08 (AP): When Leylah Fernandez wins a pivotal point at the US Open and she’s won enough of them to become the tournament’s youngest semifinalist since Maria Sharapova in 2005 the teenager with the exciting game and enthusiasm to match raises her right fist or windmills her arms, firing up herself and the crowd.
What often happens next, after good points or bad, is just as important to the success of the unseeded Canadian left-hander with the quick reflexes: She’ll turn her back to the court and her opponent, face the wall behind the baseline for a few moments, gather herself and repeat whatever that day’s mantra of choice is. During Tuesday’s 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5) victory against No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina in Arthur Ashe Stadium, which followed wins over past U.S. Open champions and former No. 1s Naomi Osaka and Angelique Kerber, Fernandez focused on self-belief. “I was only thinking of trusting myself, trusting my game. After every point, win or lose, I would always tell myself, Trust my game. Go for my shots. Just see where the ball goes,'” said Fernandez, who turned 19 on Monday and had never been past the third round in her previous half-dozen major appearances.
“I see what I’m feeling. I see if there’s one phrase that really catches me or that makes me more motivated than the others. I just keep it throughout the match.” It’s working. Another Canadian moved into the semifinals when 21-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime’s opponent Tuesday night, 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz of Spain, stopped playing in the second set shortly after a visit from a trainer.
Auger-Aliassime was coming off two five-set wins in a row and conceded this match while trailing 6-3, 3-1.
No. 12 seed Auger-Aliassime will play No. 2 Daniil Medvedev next. Medvedev, a 25-year-old from Russia, earned a spot in the final four at Flushing Meadows for the third consecutive year by stopping the surprising run of Dutch qualifier Botic van de Zandschulp 6-3, 6-0, 4-6, 7-5.
With no players from the United States left to pull for, U.S. Open fans are adopting their neighbors from the North although the 73rd-ranked Fernandez actually is based in Florida after being born in Montreal to a Filipino Canadian mother and an Ecuadorian father.
Fernandez’s father is also her coach but isn’t in New York; he stayed home for what Fernandez called personal reasons and is offering tips in daily phone conversations.
“I called him right after the match, when I went to the locker room, she said. He honestly told me that I put him through hell and back with this match.
And the spectators loved every minute of it.
“Thanks to you, I was able to push through today, she told the crowd after edging Svitolina, the Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist who’s been to two Grand Slam semifinals, including at the 2019 U.S. Open.

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