US Open: Leylah Fernandez stuns Naomi Osaka; Halep progresses
Defending US Open champion Naomi Osaka was stunned in the third round by Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez. The 18-year-old Fernandez produced a remarkable 5-7, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 victory. Osaka lost her cool and smashed her racquet twice on the floor as she lost the second set tie-break. Meanwhile, Simona Halep advanced after overcoming Elena Rybakina. Here are further details.
The win is the 18-year-old Fernandez's second Top 5 win of her career. It puts the world number 73 into her maiden round of 16 at a Slam, where she will face 2016 US Open champion, Angelique Kerber. Fernandez won her first WTA title earlier this season by pocketing the Monterrey Open. She had earlier beaten Ana Konjuh and Kaia Kanepi in straight sets.
After sealing a notable scalp, Fernandez said she was focusing on what she needed to do as the crowd helped her immensely. "From the very beginning I knew I was able to win," Fernandez said. "I wasn't focusing on Naomi, I was just focusing on what I needed to do. The crowd made a huge difference - they helped me get the win."
Fernandez fired 28 winners to 24 unforced errors. Meanwhile, world number three Osaka fired 37 winners, including 15 aces, to 36 unforced errors. Notably, Fernandez was broken just once in the match. As per WTA, Osaka landed just 62% of her returns in the match, a bit lower than Fernandez's 66%. In the third set, Osaka won just one point of Fernandez's first serve.
12th seed Simona Halep rediscovered some of her pre-calf injury form with a battling 7-6, 4-6, 6-3 win over Rybakina of Kazhakstan. Halep played with her right thigh heavily strapped and saved three set points in the first set tie-break, besides fighting back from a breakdown in each set. Halep said the frustrations got her a little bit as she was nervous.
Halep will face Elina Svitolina next after the Ukrainian overcame Russia's Daria Kasatkina 6-4, 6-2. Spain's Garbine Muguruza beat last year's finalist Victoria Azarenka to reach the fourth round. Muguruza beat Azarenka 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. Muguruza will face Barbora Krejcikova next after the 2021 French Open champion overcame Kamilla Rakhimova (6-4, 6-2). Meanwhile, Elise Mertens beat Ons Jabeur 6-3, 7-5.
Aryna Sabalenka reached the fourth round in New York for the first time since 2018. She beat an in-form Danielle Collins 6-3, 6-3 in 1 hour and 29 minutes. Collins couldn't break Sabalenka in the match, who saved three breakpoints in the first set. Sabalenka will face Mertens next. The former leads the H2H record (5-2) and has won the last four meetings.