US Open: Giant-slaying Fernandez pinching herself after ousting two slam champs en route to QFs

By Sports Desk September 05, 2021

Canadian sensation Leylah Fernandez said she is pinching herself after continuing her fairytale run with a shock last-16 win over Angelique Kerber at the US Open.

After stunning defending champion Naomi Osaka in a third-round boilover at Flushing Meadows, giant-slaying teenager Fernandez conquered three-time grand slam winner Kerber 4-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 en route to the quarter-finals.

Kerber – the 2018 US Open champion – won the opening set in New York, however 18-year-old Fernandez staged a remarkable comeback on the eve of her 19th birthday to reach her first slam quarter-final.

"I did have to pinch myself a little bit to see that it actually happened, but like I said, I knew that my tennis, my level of tennis is there," Fernandez said post-match. "It's just a moment of time, opportunity, and I'm glad that I was able to get this opportunity now and that I was able to showcase what I can do in front of these players.

"Even if I would have lost, I would have been proud of myself with the way that I played, the way that I fought. I was lucky enough to get the win today and just getting this experience.

"It's my first fourth-round quarterfinals in a grand slam. I'm just going to enjoy it at 100 per cent, and tomorrow is going to be a new day."

Fernandez, who hit 45 winners to 34 unforced errors – added: "The match was incredible. I was playing well in the first set.

"Unfortunately I did a few mistakes. Her, as a great player, great champion, she noticed and she took advantage of it. I was able to refocus and fight back for the second.

"In the third, I was just enjoying every moment of it. Honestly, the crowd has been amazing, so thanks to them I was able to win."

"I'm just super happy," she continued. "I'm going to enjoy tonight as much as I can, and then once I'm off to bed, I'll try to forget about it so that I can get ready for tomorrow."

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  • French Open: Irina-Camelia Begu issues apology after thrown racquet hits child French Open: Irina-Camelia Begu issues apology after thrown racquet hits child

    Irina-Camelia Begu issued an apology after a racquet she threw into the ground bounced into the crowd and struck a child at the French Open.

    The Romanian was playing in a second-round match against Ekaterina Alexandrova and was down a break in the third set when the incident happened.

    The match was suspended as the young boy, who was sitting near the umpire's chair, was left in tears and being comforted by his parents.

    Begu was issued a warning but avoided a default and went on to win the match 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 6-4.

    She later posed for pictures with the boy and said sorry for her moment of frustration at a post-match news conference.

    "Well, it's an embarrassing moment for me, so I don't want to talk too much about it. I just want to apologise," she said.

    "My whole career I didn't do something like this, and I feel really bad and sorry. So I'm just going to say again, sorry for the incident and it was just an embarrassing moment for me.

    "It was a difficult moment because I didn't want to hit that racquet. You hit the clay with the racquet, but you never expect [it] to fly that much."

    A statement circulated by the French Tennis Federation from tournament referee Remy Azemar said: "The grand slam supervisor spoke with the parents who were with the child. The parents confirmed that the child was fine and not injured."

    It said the racquet had "brushed a young spectator".

    The incident was reminiscent of the 2020 US Open when men's world number one Novak Djokovic was defaulted when a ball he struck in anger hit a line judge.

    Begu faces local favourite Leolia Jeanjean in round three.

  • French Open: Tsitsipas through against "complete player" Kolar French Open: Tsitsipas through against "complete player" Kolar

    Stefanos Tsitsipas called Zdenek Kolar a "complete player", despite ultimately defeating his Czech opponent in the second round of the French Open.

    Tsitsipas was relatively untroubled in the first set, but was made to work for the win after that as he and Kolar exchanged one tie-break each before the number four seed finally secured victory with another tie-break in the fourth set, sealing it 6-3 7-6 (10-8) 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (9-7).

    Kolar is ranked 134th in the world but looked every bit a threat to Tsitsipas on Court Suzanne-Lenglen, hitting 57 winners and succeeding with 29 of 37 net points (78 per cent).

    Speaking at a news conference after his win, Tsitsipas explained the difficulties he experienced, saying: "He's someone I knew a little bit. It's never easy playing guys that don't really play on the ATP Tour. You don't really know what to expect. I guess they play more free.

    "It's always like this. They really have a nothing-to-lose mentality. It's a different mentality than what we have, I think, which sometimes can really be brutal on the court and create some good tennis.

    "He was really pushing a lot today, getting after every ball. His body was behind every ball. Running fast, reacting fast. Good net game. Complete player, I would say. Yeah, it wasn't easy out there to face him and come up with some good solutions."

    Tsitsipas - who hit 25 aces - displayed some of his oft-seen frustration as he struggled to stay on top of his opponent, and was asked if his hardest obstacle was Kolar or himself.

    "I guess both today," he said. "I had a lot of opportunities, break points, playing quite well, staying within the game. He was coming up with some really good ideas and I think dealt with all of the situations so maturely, not overexaggerating anything. He's an intelligent player, I would say.

    "Look, last year there were moments where it was about me and the way I deal with situations on the court, not focusing that much on who is on the other side. It's all about perspective. It's sometimes good to focus on what you are doing, but also if you're not feeling great, you have to see the other side too."

    Having rallied from two sets down to beat Lorenzo Musetti in the first round, and now being made to work hard by Kolar, Tsitsipas will now face Mikael Ymer after the Swede beat 29th seed Dan Evans on Thursday.

  • French Open: 'We are responsible for our racket' – Alexandrova heated after racket slam incident in loss French Open: 'We are responsible for our racket' – Alexandrova heated after racket slam incident in loss

    Ekaterina Alexandrova said the "rules were against" her after she lost to Irina-Camelia Begu at the French Open, where her Romanian opponent accidentally hit a child in the crowd with her racket.

    The incident occurred in the third set of the second round match on Thursday, with Begu slamming her racket in frustration after a lost point, inadvertently bouncing it off the court's surface and into the crowd, where it struck the youngster.

    Begu has since apologised, calling it "embarrassing".

    There was a short break in play as officials and supervisors checked on the crying child, before ultimately deciding to give Begu a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct.

    Once play resumed, Begu immediately broke Alexandrova's serve, and won six of the next eight games to seal a 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 6-4 victory.

    In an Instagram post after her loss, Alexandrova expressed her disappointment, suggesting the rules had been against her.

    "So disappointed to leave [Roland Garros] like that, I was trying to do my best, but seems like the rules were against me today," she wrote. "This shouldn't be happening. 

    "I hope after today's match rules will be improved for everyone's safety. We are responsible for our racket."

    Speaking to the media after her win, Begu was apologetic for her actions.

    "Well, it's an embarrassing moment for me. I just want to apologise," she said. "My whole career I didn't do something like this, and I feel really bad and sorry. 

    "So I'm just going to say again, sorry for the incident and, yeah, it was just an embarrassing moment for me.

    She added: "It was a difficult moment because I didn't want to hit that racket, you know. 

    "You hit the clay with the racket, but you never expect [it] to fly that much. 

    "It was, as I said, embarrassing moment for me, and I just want to end it and not talk about it."

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