Leylah Fernandez knocks off Naomi Osaka in third round battle at US Open

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Canada's Leylah Fernandez
18-year-old Leylah Fernandez pulled off a huge upset on Friday night at Arthur Ashe Stadium. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

Naomi Osaka, once again, found herself on the wrong side of a third-round upset on Friday night.

Osaka fell to Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez in the third round of the US Open in New York, marking her third straight loss in Round 3 of a tournament since she was defeated at the Olympics in Tokyo.

Fernandez, 18, pulled off the upset after a tight battle at Arthur Ashe Stadium after a big second set tiebreaker, which led her to the 7-5, 6-7 (7-2), 6-4 victory.

The win was the biggest of her career, and it will land her the deepest she’s ever been in a Grand Slam.

“From the very beginning, right before the match I knew I was able to win,” Fernandez said post-match on the court.

Fernandez is the second 18-year-old to come up with a massive upset over a No. 3 seed on Friday, following Spain's Carlos Alcaraz, who knocked off Stefanos Tsitsipas earlier in the night on the men’s side.

Fernandez takes advantage of Osaka missteps

The match was a tight one essentially the whole way through, as neither player took more than a two-game lead at any point.

Fernandez rallied back from an early hole to take a 1-0 lead in the first set, and kept moving back and forth with Osaka until she took a 5-4 lead with a dominant ninth game.

That is when Osaka turned it on. The third-ranked player in the world rattled off the next three games to close out the set, and gave up only one point in the process.

The second set was much of the same, and the two found themselves tied 4-4 midway through.

Fernandez then jumped up 5-4 again before Osaka rattled off a pair of wins to take the lead after breaking Fernandez with a backhand winner in the 11th game.

Fernandez forced a tiebreak after Osaka made an unforced error and then won the next five points after multiple Osaka errors — something that threw her off her game. At one point she threw her racquet onto the court out of frustration.

Though she escaped with a single point after Fernandez missed the mark on a return, Fernandez closed out the tiebreaker quickly on two more Osaka errors to take the second set and force a third.

Fernandez kept things rolling into the final set, where she took a quick 3-1 lead and seemed poised to close out Osaka with ease. Fernandez then battled to a 5-4 advantage and won the final game with four quick shots to close out Osaka and make it into the fourth round of the tournament.

Fernandez will now face Germany’s Angelique Kerber, who is ranked No. 17 in the world and is fresh off her win over Sloane Stephens.

“It’ll be a battle,” Fernandez said. “We’re going to have fun, I’m going to put on a show like I did tonight, and we’ll see how it goes.”

Osaka 'trying to figure out what I want to do'

Osaka, who stepped away from the sport earlier this year to focus on her mental health, was visibly struggling after her loss Friday. She spoke with reporters at the stadium, though she broke down in tears at the end and said that she would likely be taking another break.

“I feel like for me recently, like when I win I don’t feel happy. I feel more like a relief,” she said while tearing up, via Sporting News’ Jackie Spiegel. “And then when I lose, I feel very sad. I don’t think that’s normal. I didn’t really want to cry, but basically I feel like … I’m kind of at this point where I’m trying to figure out what I want to do, and honestly I don’t know when I’m going to play my next tennis match. Sorry.”

Naomi Osaka of Japan at the 2021 US Open
Naomi Osaka may be taking another break from tennis. (TPN/Getty Images)
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