5 min read
On Tuesday, Leylah Fernandez
(UTR Rating 12.65*) kept her dream run alive by reaching the semifinals of the US Open. The 19-year-old Canadian upset No. 5-seeded Elina Svitolina (UTR Rating 12.92), 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5) to become the youngest woman to make the final four in New York since Maria Sharapova in 2005. She's also the youngest since Serena Williams in 1995 to defeat two WTA Top-5 players at the same Grand Slam.
Fernandez led 5-2 in the third set before closing out Svitolina in two hours and 25 minutes on her first match point in the tight tiebreak. Fernandez's other Top-5 win was over No. 3 seed Naomi Osaka
(UTR Rating 12.99) in the third round, and she also topped two-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber
(UTR Rating 12.95) in the round of 16. She'll face No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka
(UTR Rating 13.19) for a place in the final.
"From a very young age, I knew I was able to beat anyone, anyone who is in front of me," Fernandez said after her win over Osaka. "Even playing different sports, I was always that competitive, saying I'm going to win against them, I'm going to win against my dad in soccer, even though that's, like, impossible. I've always had that belief. I've always tried to use that in every match that I go on. I guess today that belief came true."
Fernandez's dad played professional soccer for the Ecuadorian national team. He and fitness trainer Duglas Cordero are supporting Leylah from her player's box each match.
Sabalenka eased past 2021 Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova
(UTR Rating 12.99), 6-1, 6-4 to reach her second major semifinal of the season. With 43 wins, Sabalenka owns the record for most match wins on the WTA tour this year.
“It means a lot. I love to be in New York, and the US Open is one of my favorite Slams,” Sabalenka said. “I watched
The 23-year-old Belarusian has dropped just one set this fortnight, in her opening round against Nina Stojanovic. She's since scored dominant wins over seeded players Danielle Collins, Elise Mertens, and Krejcikova.
The remaining women's quarterfinals on Wednesday will feature Belinda Bencic vs. Emma Raducanu and Karolina Pliskova vs. Maria Sakkari. Let's get deeper into the semifinal between Sabalenka and Fernandez scheduled for Thursday night with input from Universal Tennis INSIGHTS.
(2) Aryna Sabalenka (UTR Rating 13.19) vs. Leylah Fernandez (UTR Rating 12.65)
Sabalenka has the Universal Tennis INSIGHTS edge over Fernandez in every category and a sizeable 80% chance of making her first Grand Slam final. Her UTR Rating and three-month Trending UTR Rating are both higher, and her record versus common opponents is better as is her win-loss record over the last 15 months. As mentioned already, Sabalenka leads the record for most wins in 2021, so Fernandez won't be catching up anytime soon.
Both have had excellent seasons with Sabalenka winning two WTA titles (Abu Dhabi and Madrid) and reaching the semifinals at Wimbledon for the first time. Fernandez picked up her WTA title in Monterrey in March.
Sabalenka and Fernandez have never played each other before, and given how much trouble Fernandez's lefty game style has given a slew of top players this fortnight, it's reasonable to expect Sabalenka to have to really work for it on Thursday.
•UTR Ratings and INSIGHTS probabilities as of 9 a.m. EST, Sept. 8, 2021.