Fernandez stuns another US Open champion

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Raising her right fist overhead to celebrate winner after winner, 18-year-old Leylah Fernandez has demonstrated that her upset win over defending champion Naomi Osaka at the US Open was certainly no fluke by beating another past title winner at Flushing Meadows.

With grit and guile, and a veteran's poise in the face of a big deficit against a much more accomplished opponent, the unseeded Fernandez grabbed the last five games to defeat 2016 champion Angelique Kerber 4-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-2.

"I did have to pinch myself a little bit to see that it actually happened, but I knew that my tennis, my level of tennis is there," Fernandez said.

"Even if I would have lost, I would have been proud of myself with the way that I played, the way that I fought."

Just like against Osaka two nights earlier, Fernandez dropped the opening set.

Just like against Osaka, Fernandez trailed in the second set, too - this time, Kerber led by a break at 4-2.

But for the second match in a row on a big court, the 73rd-ranked Canadian got the crowd on her side, exulting each time she hit one of her on-the-run, impossible-angle groundstrokes.

"I'm glad that my older sister and her fiance and also my cousin was able to come and watch my match, so we are just going to go celebrate at a nice Italian restaurant we have been going to every night," Fernandez, who celebrates her 19th birthday on Tuesday, added.

Now Fernandez, who only once had been as far as the third round at a major tournament until now, will meet Elina Svitolina in the quarter-finals.

Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Svitolina, for her part, did what she was supposed to, advance to the last eight as the fifth seed.

The Ukraine star beat two-time grand slam champion Simona Halep 6-3 6-3 to emerge as a real contender - having not dropped a set in the tournament.

World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka reached the last eight for the first time by dispatching Belgian Elise Mertens 6-4 6-1.

With the demise of Osaka and top-ranked Australian Ash Barty, Sabalenka is the favourite to win in New York and claim her maiden slam title.

Belarusian Sabalenka will play eighth-seeded Barbora Krejcikova in the quarters after the French Open champion beat two-time major winner Garbine Muguruza 6-3 7-6 (7-4).

The 25-year-old Krejcikova took a medical time out while down 6-5 in the second set. When play resumed, the Czech won seven consecutive points and then angered the eighth-seeded Muguruza by taking her time between points in the tiebreaker.

After the last point, Muguruza told Krejcikova she was "so unprofessional."

"I think, between players, you know a little bit how to behave in certain moments and, yeah, I wasn't very happy at the end of the match."

with Reuters

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