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US Open 2021 – Leylah Fernandez holds her nerve to beat Elina Svitolina in final-set tiebreak to reach semi-finals

US Open 2021 - Leylah Fernandez holds her nerve to beat Elina Svitolina in final-set tiebreak to reach semi-finals

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Leylah Fernandez withstood a fightback from Elina Svitolina to book her place in the semi-finals of the US Open.

The Canadian teenager arrived in New York as the world number 75, but she took the event by storm to race into the quarter finals – beating Naomi Osaka and Angelique Kerber on the way to the last eight.

Number five seed Svitolina was expected to be a bridge too far, but Fernandez proved she is an elite player in the making by getting the better of a major battle 6-3 3-6 7-6(5).

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Fernandez was deeply impressive with her play from the back of the court, showing tremendous movement and powerful hitting to shock her opponent.

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The 19-year-old, who celebrated her birthday the previous day, took charge of the first set early on – with her forehand dominating the exchanges from the baseline.

Svitolina shrugged off the loss of the first set to fight back in the second. It was not smooth sailing, as breaks of serve were traded, but impeccable length from the back of the court allowed her to dominate.

The Ukrainian came under pressure when serving for the second set, and staved off a break point with a brilliant crosscourt forehand on the run. She let out a roar of delight and served out two points later to level the match.

Svitolina appeared in the ascendancy, but breaks were traded as both came under pressure on their second serves.

Fernandez broke for a second time in the deciding set to edge ahead, as Svitolina directed her frustrations the way of her support camp.

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Svitolina held up her end of the bargain by holding serve in the eighth game to ask Fernandez to serve out.

There were nerves, as demonstrated by a double fault. Svitolina threw some bombs from the baseline, and was able to force the break to take the match to a tiebreak – which was fitting for such a battle.

The tiebreak mirrored the match, as it see-sawed both ways. The key moment came at 5-5 in the breaker, as Fernandez found a stunning pass down the line to set up match point.

Fernandez kept her cool, and was able to celebrate victory when Svitolina sent a forehand over the baseline.

The Canadian will meet Barbora Krejcikova or number two seed Aryna Sabalenka in the semi-finals.

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