US Open 2021: Leylah Fernandez becomes youngest woman since Serena Williams to beat 2 top 5 seeds

·5-min read

We're getting down to the nitty gritty at the 2021 US Open. There are just four singles matches on Tuesday — a far cry from the 128 we had over the first two days — so every match matters. We're left with just eight men and eight women, and from that we'll get two champions by the end of the weekend. 

Check back here for updates from Day 9 of the US Open. 

Leylah Fernandez upsets No. 5 Elina Svitolina 

Leylah Fernandez cannot be stopped, and neither can her amazing Cinderella story. 

The 19-year-old, in her first US Open appearance, nailed down another landmark win on Tuesday, defeating No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina 6-3, 3-6, 7-5(5). It's the second time in the tournament she's beaten a top five seed (she also beat Naomi Osaka, the No. 3 seed) making her the youngest player to do that since Serena Williams in 1999.

The first set was all Fernandez. She looked magnificent against Svitolina, reaching and sliding and playing angles you didn't think she could. Playing fearless tennis, she got the first break of the match, and won the set in quick order. 

Svitolina hadn't given up, though. She came back with a vengeance in the second set, fighting Fernandez for every single point and willing herself back into the game. 

Fernandez got ahead early in the third set, but she couldn't hold the lead. Svitolina wouldn't let Fernandez just have the win, and eventually tied the set at 5-5 when Fernandez couldn't close. Then they tied at 6-6 and went to a tiebreak — the only way such a thrilling, high-level match could end. 

And Fernandez did it. Svitolina had a shot, tied at 5-5, to win it all. But she fell behind on a brilliantly placed shot from Fernandez, and then hit it into the net on the last point of the match. When she won, Fernandez fell to her knees, completely overwhelmed and crying happy tears.

Just one day after her 19th birthday, she's on to her very first Grand Slam semifinal, where she will face...

Tournament favorite Aryna Sabalenka rolls into semifinals

In a tournament without two-time US Open champion Naomi Osaka (thanks to Fernandez) and world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, the tournament favorite is No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka. And she keeps playing like it.

Sabalenka defeated No. 8 seed Barbora Krejčíková 6-1, 6-4 on Tuesday to advance to the semifinals, where she will play Fernandez as the teenager's biggest challenge yet.

Sabalenka is coming off her first career Grand Slam semifinal at Wimbledon this year and currently holds BetMGM's highest odds to win it all in New York at +140. Fernandez sits in third at +550.

Carlos Alcaraz's dream run comes to end

While Fernandez's run will reach the semifinals, one of the other teenagers remaining in the tournament wasn't so fortunate.

Carlos Alcarez, 18, retired in his quarterfinal match against Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime due to injury. At the time, he was down 6-3, 3-1. Alcaraz rocketed into prominence with his defeat of No. 3 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and was the first teenager to reach the quarterfinals of the men's singles tournament since Michael Chang.

Unfortunately, he didn't get a chance to see his campaign through.

Daniil Medvedev easily handles Botic van de Zandschulp

Botic van de Zandschulp's fairy tale run at the US Open has come to an end. The unseeded 25-year-old made it all the way through to the quarterfinals, but couldn't overcome the No. 2 seed, Daniil Medvedev, who beat him 6-3, 6-0, 4-6, 7-5. 

Van de Zandschulp never stopped fighting, though it looked like it was going to be a short match after the second set. Medvedev was dominant, completely overwhelming van de Zandschulp.

But it wasn't over. Van de Zandschulp had a brilliant third set, which kept him in the game. 

Sadly, the comeback wasn't meant to be. Van de Zandschulp and Medvedev battled in the fourth set, but Medvedev managed to win the set and end the match. He's not the world No. 2 for nothing, folks. 

During his five rounds at the US Open, van de Zandschulp beat the No. 11 seed and the No. 8 seed, and that was after going through a number of qualifying matches in the lead up to the actual tournament. Grand Slam season may be over, but everyone will be excited to see what he'll bring to the court when it starts again next year. 

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