Leylah Fernandez brushed aside yet another former champion as the fearless Canadian teenager stormed into the quarterfinals of the US Open on Sunday with a 4-6 7-6(5) 6-2 win over 16th seed Angelique Kerber.
It was a precocious and poised performance from Fernandez, who celebrates her 19th birthday on Monday and had already sent a jolt through Flushing Meadows on Friday when she stunned third seed and defending champion Naomi Osaka.
There would be no letdown for Fernandez after the biggest win of her fledgling career, the youngster soaking up the energy from a seething Louis Armstrong crowd after dropping the opening set to three-times Grand Slam winner Kerber.
Fernandez had grabbed the early break at 4-2 but could not consolidate it as Kerber, the 2016 US Open winner, broke right back with the help of a pair of double-faults by the Canadian.
Having made the breakthrough, the experienced German quickly took command, winning four straight games to open up a 1-0 lead.
But Fernandez remained unfazed, fist-pumping and screaming with each winner throughout a tight second set that went to a tie-break that she took 7-5.
Kerber, 15 years older than her opponent, countered Fernandez’s enthusiasm with veteran calm and focus, but it was the 73rd ranked Canadian taking charge in the third, sweeping the final five games to cinch a breathtaking victory.
KREJCIKOVA BEATS MUGURUZA
Barbora Krejcikova survived a Garbine Muguruza fight back and late injury issue to claim a 6-3 7-6(4) win and move into the quarterfinals, while her Spanish opponent’s run at Flushing Meadows ended at a familiar roadblock.
Playing in the US Open main draw for the first time after failing to qualify on five occasions, Czech Krejcikova has suddenly found form on the New York hardcourts, at times looking as comfortable as she did earlier this year on clay winning the French Open.
However, Krejcikova, who called a medical time out late in the second set, looked in distress after the match and was helped off the court by medical staff.
For Muguruza, it was a familiar end to her Flushing Meadows campaign.
The Spaniard has won the French Open and Wimbledon, reached the final in Australia but has failed to reach the quarterfinals at the US Open.
With the clock ticking towards midnight in New York, Muguruza sleepwalked through the early games as Krejcikova surged to a 3-0 lead.
The Spaniard eventually emerged from her slumber but Krejcikova was already in full stride, sweeping through seven straight games to take the opening set and a 4-0 lead in the second at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Muguruza mounted a determined comeback, piling on the pressure to win five games on the trot to move ahead 5-4.
With the score at 6-5 and preparing to serve to force a tie-break, Krejcikova called a medical timeout and left the court clutching her abdomen.
After returning to the court, the Czech held serve to love to force the tie-break, which she easily won 7-4.