US Open 2021: Leylah Fernandez ends Naomi Osaka's title defence

Leylah Fernandez dismissed defending champion Naomi Osaka 5-7, 7-6, 6-4, to break through to the Round of 16 of a major for the first time.

Leylah Fernandez beat Naomi Osaka to reach the fourth round of US Open women's singles; Credit: Twitter/@usopen

Naomi Osaka, the defending women’s singles champion was eliminated, 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-4 in the third round of the U.S. Open on Friday night at the Arthur Ashe stadium by Leylah Fernandez. The 18-year-old Canadian capitalised as Osak lost her cool to craft a remarkable victory. Osaka was broken as she served for the match in the second set, and a poor tie-break handed Fernandez the initiative under the New York lights. The teenager couldn’t contain her smile as she secured a fantastic win.

“I guess I wanted to stay on the court a little bit longer, and I wanted to put on a show for everybody here. One hour was just not enough for me on court,” said Fernandez in her post-match interview.

Osaka, who was playing in her first Grand Slam after pulling out of the French Open earlier this year, wordlessly left the court after losing her cool in the set tiebreak. The two time US Open champion whacked her racquet and then flung onto the court twice in frustration as Fernandez scored five straight points in the tie-break.

“Honestly don’t know when I’m going to play my next tennis match”

During her post-match news conference, Osaka was in tears.

“I honestly don’t know when I’m going to play my next tennis match. I think I’m going to take a break from playing for a while,” she said.

The 73rd ranked youngster broke in her opening game of the third set and used her powerful forehand to muscle her way to victory. She will next face former world No.1, Angelique Kerber, in the fourth round.

Osaka, who was coming back to the court after an eight-week break following mental health issues received a walkover into the third round in New York after her opponent withdrew. The 23-year-old looked in control during the first set and the majority of the second. But Fernandez didn’t let her get away. She was matching the Japanese with her forehand and strong serving.

Serving for the match at 6-5, Osaka lost her rhythm, handing Fernandez a crucial break as she sent a forehand long.

The tie-break quickly went away from the four-time Grand Slam champion. The Canadian celebrated her strong shot as Osaka missed down the line and the match went to the decider.

Osaka spent the third set changeovers with a towel over her head, trying to regain her composure. But the Japanese went down an early break and had to stave off the two break points to avoid going 3-0 down.

Meanwhile, Osaka was booed as she made the teenager wait when the Canadian was 30-0 up and serving for the match. Fernandez responded with a drop shot winner to garner three match points before Osaka sent a cross-court forehand wide.

Sportslumo Desk

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