19-year-old Leylah Fernandez is headed to her first Grand Slam finals appearance after a huge win over Aryna Sabalenka in the US Open semifinals. The Filipino-Canadian outclassed world number two Sabalenka in a three-set thriller (7-6, 4-6, 6-4) on Thursday night which now puts her in the running to grab her first-ever US Open finals stint this weekend.
It's been a fairytale ride for the unseeded young tennis sensation and her journey is definitely far from over.
✨ THE FAIRYTALE CONTINUES ✨
19-year-old Leylah Fernandez upsets No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka to advance to the #USOpen Finals‼️ pic.twitter.com/206LowXC1J
— espnW (@espnW) September 10, 2021
Fernandez's road to get to the US Open Finals wasn't a walk in the park, either. It's been upset after upset for the young Montreal native after taking down the likes of two-time US Open champion Naomi Osaka, former champion Angelique Kerber, and world number five seed Elina Svitolina.
After Thursday's win over the second-best ranked tennis player in the world, Fernandez shared a touching story about fellow Canadian Steve Nash and how the former NBA MVP was a huge inspiration for her.
“I remember when I was younger, my dad used him as an example, and told me I had to work hard like Steve Nash. Hopefully, we can have a tennis match soon.” Fernandez said after the match (via Sportsnet).
"I remember when I was younger, my dad used him as an example, and told me I had to work hard like Steve Nash. Hopefully we can have a tennis match soon."@leylahfernandez thanks @SteveNash for inspiration and support as she reaches her first Grand Slam final at the #USOpen. 🇨🇦 pic.twitter.com/4TwJN8q8xD
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) September 10, 2021
The 19-year-old will now wait for the other semifinal match between 17th seed Maria Sakkari and another budding tennis star in 18-year-old Emma Raducanu. The much-anticipated US Open Finals will be on Saturday at the Arthur Ashe Stadium.