Leylah Fernandez defeated World No. 3 Naomi Osaka and won against a former world number one to advance to the quarter finals.
Filipino athletes have been having an amazing year so far. Alex Eala scored her latest Grand Slam title in France this year. Yuka Saso made history as the first Filipina to win a major golfing tournament in the US. Team Philippines broke many records and made history during the Tokyo Olympics. EJ Obiena made a personal and national record at pole vaulting at his most recent competition. And another achievement can be added to the list thanks to 19-year-old Filipino-Canadian tennis player Leylah Fernandez.
DEFEATING NAOMI, ADVANCING TO THE QUARTERFINALS
During the third round of the 2021 US Open, Leylah went up against defending US Open title holder Naomi Osaka. The match was heated, to say the least, with both girls neck-in-neck with each other. There was even one point where Naomi threw her racket in frustration. But in the end, Leylah surprised many by beating the young tennis star with a score of 5-7, 7-6(2), 6-4. She previously defeated Ana Konjuh of Croatia and Kaia Kanepi of Estonia in her past two games.
Proving that her win wasn’t just luck, Leylah Fernandez then won against her opponent the former world number one ranking player, Angelique Kerber, from Germany. During the Women’s Single round of match 16, the score was 4-6, 7-6(7/5), 6-2 and the best part about her win was that it was on her 19th birthday. Leylah now advances to the quarterfinal of the US Open where she will face off against Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist Elina Svitolina from Ukraine.
HER PAST ACCOMPLISHMENTS
This isn’t the first time Leylah Fernandez has shown off her impressive tennis skills. She won the 2019 Roland Garros in the girls singles category, making her the first Canadian woman since Eugenie Bouchard in 2012 to win a junior grand slam title. She made her senior grand slam debut at the 2020 Australian Open and was even part of the six-member team representing Canada in tennis at the Tokyo Olympics. She’s also defeated her fair share of tennis champions in the past like Olympic champion Belinda Bencic and former US Open champion Sloane Stephens.
It’s no surprise to learn then that sports runs in Leylah’s blood. She was born in Montreal, Canada to Jorge, an Ecuadorean pro football player, and Irene Exevea, a Canadian with Filipino roots. Leylah started playing tennis when she was seven and her father served as her first coach. She and her family then moved to Florida when Leylah was 12 where she has been residing ever since. Her older sister, Jodeci, is a dentist while her younger sister, Bianca Jolie, is also a tennis player. Leylah Fernandez is currently ranked 73 in the world.
Congratulations to Leylah and considering that she only has grown pro in 2020, we have a feeling she’ll have a long career ahead of her.