While fans rose from their slumber across the United Kingdom to watch Emma Raducanu reach the US Open final, it was another teen who was busy stealing the show on the Arthur Ashe court.
Nineteen-year-old Canadian Leylah Fernandez produced a truly stunning display to add No 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka to her list of scalps over the past two weeks.
Naomi Osaka, Angelique Kerber and Elina Svitolina all fell to the young Canadian and despite some big hitting early on, Sabalenka had no answers as Fernandez roared into Saturday’s final.
Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez roared to victory to reach Saturday’s US Open final
No 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka started strongly but soon found she was losing momentum
Sabalenka started far stronger as she bullied Fernandez around the court with her thunderous forehands.
But having raced out to a 4-1 lead, momentum suddenly shifted and Fernandez never looked back.
The Canadian’s poise, it seems, is as limitless has her potential. And no foe, no matter how accomplished or highly ranked, poses an insurmountable problem.
Speedy afoot and steady at crunch time, the unseeded Fernandez edged Sabalenka 7-6, 4-6, 6-4 on Thursday night in Arthur Ashe Stadium, earning the right to play for a Grand Slam title this weekend.
Fernandez was given a harsh lesson early on but she soon adapted and took control to win
Sabalenka showed warrior-like spirit as she won the second set to force a deciding set
It was the 73rd-ranked Fernandez’s fourth consecutive three-set victory over a seeded opponent.
First came No 3 Osaka, the 2018 and 2020 US Open champion. Then came No 16 Kerber, the 2016 champ. That was followed by No 5 Elina Svitolina and now Sabalenka.
In Saturday’s final, the left-handed Fernandez will face another unseeded teen in 18-year-old qualifier Raducanu.
The Brit became the first qualifier in history to reach a Grand Slam final later in the evening, beating Maria Sakkari in straight sets to continue her own incredible run.
In the end, it was Sabalenka, a Wimbleton semi-finalist in July, who let things get away from her.
Fernandez will face British teen sensation Emma Raducanu (pictured) in Saturday’s final
Fernandez held her nerve to take the win and she collapsed onto the court at the end
In the last game, she double-faulted twice in a row to set up match point, then sailed a forehand long.
Asked how she managed to make it this far, a gobsmacked Fernandez said: ‚I have no idea!‘
She added: ‚That’s years and years and years of hard work and tears and blood and everything, on court, off court, sacrifices.
‚I just wanted to be in the finals, I really wanted it, and I fought for every point.‘
It is a remarkable story – she is the second Canadian in three years to get to a US Open final