On Thursday night, 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez defeated No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka in the semifinals of the 2021 US Open 7-6, 4-6, 6-4. Throughout the match, Fernandez displayed remarkable mental toughness and fantastic shot selection at crucial moments to overcome the Belarusian’s powerful game. The 5’6” Canadian remained poised and consistent, as opposed to Sabalenka’s wild performance, marked by 52 unforced errors.

Fernandez expressed bewilderment in her postgame interview. “I think one word that really stuck to me is ‘magical’ because not only is my run really good but also the way I’m playing right now,” she said. “I’m just having fun, I’m trying to produce something for the crowd to enjoy. I’m glad that whatever I’m doing on court, the fans are loving it and I’m loving it, too.”

‘Magical’ certainly characterizes Fernandez’s improbable U.S. Open run, as she was ranked outside the top 70 at the start of the tournament. Her victory against Sabalenka comes on the heels of defeats against No. 3 Naomi Osaka, No. 5 Elina Svitolina and three-time Grand Slam champ Angelique Kerber.

She will be facing 18-year-old Emma Raducanu who has been carving her own storybook path. Radacanu was ranked No. 345 at the start of the year and has quickly risen to the top of the world rankings after U.S. Open victories against Stefanie Voegele, Zhang Shuai, Sara Sorribes Tormo, Shelby Rogers and Belinda Bencic, all without dropping a set. Raducanu is now in the finals after beating No. 17 Maria Sakkari.

The must-watch all-teen U.S. Open final will take place on Saturday at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

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