CALGARY (660 NEWS) — It’s a given Canadians from coast to coast have uttered the name Leylah Fernandez at some point over the past few days.
And Saturday afternoon, the 19-year-old has a chance to hoist her first Grand Slam trophy, taking on 18-year-old Emma Raducanu of Britain in the US Open final.
“We’ll be seeing a matchup of stylistically different players,” tennis reporter Ben Lewis told Sportsnet 650. “But, at the same time, it’s a cherry on top for whichever player wins. They’ve already far exceeded any expectations going into this tournament.”
The last time two teenagers met in a Grand Slam Final – 1999 #USOpen between Serena William & Martina Hingis – both Leylah Fernandez ???????? & Emma Raducanu ???????? were not born. pic.twitter.com/mmXIGDikWv
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) September 10, 2021
Fernandez’s road to the final has been impressive, with victories over defending champion Naomi Osaka, Angie Kerber, Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka.
“Leylah is hugging the baseline and just taking away your time, disrupting your rhythm, and I think that can be very challenging, not only mentally draining but physically draining,” Lewis explained. “You’re exacting all your energy on hitting your hardest ball, and it’s just being redirected into open spaces. And Leylah is fantastic at redirecting the ball.
“One of her most underrated shots is actually the drop shot. We saw it a lot [versus Sabalenka], that backhand little slice drop that she disguises really well and has suddenly changed the rhythm of the points. She has a lot of options.”
Regardless of Saturday’s outcome, Fernandez’s career has changed as she knew it. She’s guaranteed a $1.25-million payday, and she will skyrocket up the WTA rankings.
If she wins, she’ll follow in the footsteps of fellow Canada Bianca Andreescu, who won the tournament in 2019.
The US Open women’s final begins at 2:20 p.m. Calgary time.