The main story of the U.S. Open, other than the plethora of five-set matches, or three-set matches for the women, has been the surprising runs of a few teenagers in both the women’s and men’s side of the draw. The longest run so far is by a young Canadian named Leylah Fernandez, who has kneecapped a couple former No. 1s so far, and then yesterday defeated No. 5 Elana Svitolina in a third-set tiebreaker to make the semifinals. At such a tender age, to come through that kind of setting is impressive enough. To give herself a match point in the biggest crunch-time tennis has with a shot like this is another:
Yeah, it caught the net, but Svitolina wasn’t getting there anyway. Even fighting off the approach shots at her feet was a real trick, much less chasing down what was hardly a bad volley. This is the shot that you try once every time you play your buddy, and either send the ball into the baseball diamond 50 feet beyond the fence around the courts, or fall over, or both. This is fantasy, the kind of thing you only dream up in rare moments. Fernandez is doing it for real, and at 19, which she also just turned on Monday.
It’s been quite the week for Canadian sports on American soil, with Fernandez and Felix Auger-Aliassime (himself only 21) both making their respective semifinals yesterday in Queens, following the Canadian national team getting a draw in Nashville against the USMNT. Just a few weeks ago, the Canadian womens’ team took out the USWNT in the Olympics. This kind of thing used to be reserved for just the Winter Olympics. What’s going on here? We have to fear the Maple Leaf now? Truly our nation is crumbling.
At least a Canadian team won’t ever win the Stanley Cup again.