Advertisement

U.S. Open tennis: Canadian teen Leylah Fernandez stuns Naomi Osaka in 3rd round

Leylah Fernandez of Canada celebrates after defeating Naomi Osaka of Japan in the third round of the 2021 U.S. Open Tennis Championships on Friday at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Leylah Fernandez of Canada celebrates after defeating Naomi Osaka of Japan in the third round of the 2021 U.S. Open Tennis Championships on Friday at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 3 (UPI) -- Defending champion Naomi Osaka was ousted in the third round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament after a stunning loss to unseeded Canadian teen Leylah Fernandez on Friday in Flushing, N.Y.

Osaka suffered a 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-4 loss to the 18-year-old Fernandez, who is ranked 73rd and had never advanced this far in a Grand Slam event. The defeat snapped Osaka's 16-match winning streak at major tournaments.

Advertisement

This was Osaka's first Grand Slam event since she withdrew from the French Open before the second round to take a mental health break. She then sat out Wimbledon before competing at this summer's Tokyo Olympics.

Osaka pulled away for a straight-sets win over Marie Bouzkova in the first round earlier this week, but she hadn't competed since that win Monday due to her second-round opponent, Olga Danilovic, withdrawing due to an illness.

RELATED U.S. Open tennis: Novak Djokovic, Ash Barty cruise into 3rd round

Trying to shake off the rust from that extended layoff, Osaka grabbed 12 of the last 13 points -- including the last nine -- with a break at love to take a 6-5 lead in the opening set, later using a pair of aces at 112 mph and 114 mph to win the set.

Advertisement

Osaka was on track for a similar outcome in the second set, holding a 6-5 lead and serving. But after she sailed a forehand wide, Fernandez had her first break of the match to make it 6-all.

From that point onward, Osaka unraveled and lost her composure inside Arthur Ashe Stadium. She fell behind 5-0 in the ensuing tiebreaker and continually showed her frustration by throwing her racket. Chair umpire Alison Hughes didn't sanction Osaka, though a warning was issued later after Osaka hit a ball into the stands.

RELATED U.S. Open tennis: Sloane Stephens crushes Coco Gauff, Daniil Medvedev advances

"Honestly, I wasn't focusing on Naomi," Fernandez said. "I was only focusing on myself and what I needed to do."

Fernandez took control of the match with the help of her serve. She won 18 of 19 first-serve points -- and never faced a break point -- in the decisive third set.

RELATED U.S. Open tennis: No. 1 seeds Novak Djokovic, Ash Barty cruise into 2nd round

Next up, Fernandez will challenge three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber, who won the 2016 U.S. Open. Kerber defeated unseeded Sloane Stephens in the third round to advance.

Advertisement

Also Friday, No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina, No. 8 Barbora Krejcikova, No. 9 Garbine Muguruza, No. 12 Simona Halep and No. 15 Elise Mertens reached the fourth round.

On the men's side at the U.S. Open, second-seeded Daniil Medvedev cruised to a straight-sets victory over unseeded Pablo Andujar in the third round.

No. 3 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, however, suffered a shocking loss in five sets to unseeded Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz.

No. 11 Diego Schwartzman, No. 12 Felix Auger-Aliassime and No. 24 Daniel Evans also reached the fourth round in New York.

Latest Headlines