Leylah Fernandez, an 18-year-old Canadian, gave Naomi Osaka a heartbreak on Thursday in the third round of the US Open, followed by the shocking news from Osaka. The match gave Fernandez of the 73rd place a first victory to one of the top three players and he finished third with a 16-win break in the Osaka Grand Slam matches.
Fernandez, who won 7-5, 6-7 (2-7), 6-4 at the Arthur Ashe Stadium, came up with a second win in a big win, making Osaka the first of the top 10 players in the women’s playoffs. After a disappointing loss when Osaka threw the racket, the 23-year-old said he is considering taking another break in tennis.
“Basically, I feel like I’m trying to figure out what I want to do at the moment and I honestly don’t know when I’m going to play my next tennis game,” Osaka told reporters in a post-match press conference.
Osaka then added with a cry, “I think I’ll take a break to play for a while.”
Not many had predicted that Fernandez would defend the U.S. Open champion. Fernandez, however, certainly did.
“From the start, before the game,” Fernandez said. “I knew I was capable of winning.”
Osaka have now lost three consecutive championships in the third tournament tied to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which returned to tennis after taking a break for mental health wellness after leaving the French Open in early June. He also skipped Wimbledon before competing in the Olympics.
Osaka’s frustration crept into his court actions when he threw the racket in frustration.
As the game progressed people turned on Osaka, though sometimes even booing. Fernandez said the noise factor contributed to his emotional victory.
“The difference was huge,” said Fernandez, who is competing in the second U.S. Open. “Thank you to the fans here in New York. They helped me win.”
The match was similar to the one Osaka won over Serena Williams at the 2018 US Open. In that competition, 20-year-old Osaka frustrated Williams by breaking his racket and winning his first Grand Slam final.
Fernandez wasn’t the only 18-year-old to spend a great day at the U.S. Open. Spanish Carlos Alcaraz has become the youngest male player to qualify for the round of 16 of the tournament since 1999, defeating third-placed Stefanos Tsitsipas on Thursday.
Fernandez will face No. 16 Angelique Kerber in the quarterfinals on Sunday. His vision: He used it against Osaka.
“I’m going to go out there and have fun and do what I did today,” Fernandez said.