No one lit up the New York crowds this year quite like Leylah Fernandez did. It all began with a stunning upset of Naomi Osaka in the third round, then Angelique Kerber, then Elina Svitolina, then Aryna Sabalenka—suddenly the Canadian teenager was in her first Grand Slam final, and all along the way the fans were right there with her.
Although she would fall to 18-year-old Emma Raducanu in the first all-teenage final at a major since Serena Williams beat Martina Hingis in the 1999 US Open final, the 19-year-old Fernandez still had an absolutely historic two weeks in Flushing Meadows.
She’s the youngest woman to beat three Top 5 players at a major in 22 years
Three of Fernandez’s wins came against Top 5 players, and they were all nail-biters. First she beat No. 3 Osaka in the third round, 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-4, having been three points from losing with Osaka serving for the match at 7-5, 6-5, 15-all; then she took out No. 5 Svitolina in the quarterfinals, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5), having been two points from losing at 5-all in the third set tie-break; finally there was her 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-4 semifinal win over No. 2 Sabalenka, where she actually faced a set point down 6-5 in the first set.
Having turned 19 in between the wins over Osaka and Svitolina, Fernandez was the youngest woman to beat three Top 5 players at a major since Serena at the 1999 US Open—the American took out No. 4 Monica Seles, No. 2 Lindsay Davenport and No. 1 Martina Hingis in the last three rounds en route to her first Grand Slam title that year.
She’s the third (and youngest) Canadian woman to reach a Grand Slam final
The first to do it was Eugenie Bouchard, who reached the final of Wimbledon in 2014 as a 20-year-old—she would fall to an on-fire Petra Kvitova, 6-3, 6-0. Bianca Andreescu became the second to do it, but she went one step further, going all the way to the title at the 2019 US Open as a 19-year-old, conquering Serena Williams in the final, 6-3, 7-5.
Fernandez is a younger 19 than Andreescu was two years ago.