How two kids from Montreal, Canada stormed the US Open and are into the semis

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How two kids from Montreal, Canada stormed the US Open and are into the semis

Canada’s Bianca Andreescu may be out of the draw at the U.S. Open—where she won the title in 2019—having lost to Greece’s Maria Sakkari in a late night fourth round match on Monday at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

But there are two other Canadians who have set the courts at Flushing Meadows ablaze: 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez and 21-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime, part of an exciting wave of youth at this year’s U.S. Open. Fernandez turned 19 just a few days ago, the day after she beat three-time grand slam champion Angelique Kerber in a thrilling three set Round of 16 match, 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2.

She’s not only not wilting under the pressure, the young Canadian—whose father is Ecuadoran and mother is Filipino Canadian—she’s positively thriving under it.

The win over the more seasoned Kerber came after dealing defending champion Naomi Osaka a shock third round loss. Fernandez has been lighting the crowds on fire ever since.

The teenage sensation followed up those stunning, improbably wins with yet another victory over a top ranked player, Elina Svitolina, who was one of the top contenders to take home the title.

That is, until she met a young spitfire by the name of Leylah Fernandez, 6-3 3-6 7-6(5), who became the youngest U.S. Open semifinalist since an 18-year-old Maria Sharapova did the same in 2005.

"Today's match was definitely one of the hardest, not only tennis-wise, but also mentally and emotionally," Fernandez said after the match, via CNN.

"Svitolina is a great player, great fighter. I was glad I was able to fight in the first set. In the second set, she upped her level, and I unfortunately made a few mistakes on key moments. "I'm glad I was able to recuperate for the third set.

The tiebreaker, too. A little bit lucky at five-all, but I'll take all the luck I can get. I was glad I was able to push through the finish line."

Fernandez’s Montreal compatriot, Félix Auger-Aliassime didn’t have to go to the distance in his quarterfinal with young star Carlos Alcaraz, since the young Spaniard retired early into the second set, 6-3, 3-1, but the 12th seed has been a poised marvel throughout the U.S.

Open fortnight. Defeating Alcaraz made him the first Canadian male to make the American grand slam semifinal.

“It’s great for Canada.

It’s great for Quebec,” said Auger-Aliassime at his post-match press conference, according to the Toronto Star. “We’re both from Montreal. I mean, I never thought a day like this would come. Both a little girl and a little boy from Montreal, both at the same time in the semifinals of the U.S.

Open. It’s special. It’s special for us. I hope the people back home appreciate the moment also. We do a lot. “It would be amazing if we were both in a final, right?” He added.

Auger-Aliassime—who is now coached by none other than Toni Nadal—also became the youngest player to advance to a U.S.

Open semifinal since Juan Martin del Potro in 2009. The Argentine also went on to win the tournament, by the way. Next up for the Canadian is the No. seed, Daniil Medvedev, who managed to push Rafael Nadal in a tight five setter in the 2019 final.

“Of course he’s going to come in with a lot of confidence,” Auger-Aliassime said about Medvedev. “I also need to step up and be confident in myself. I need to serve well. I need to play a great match, be solid from every aspect of the game.

“At the same time, I need to try to put pressure on him. But it’s going to be tough. I need to be ready for his best. I need to lace my shoes really well, too, because there’s going to be a lot of running”.

So what’s his and Fernandez’s secret to all their recent success? Auger-Aliassime had a cute answer.

So that’s it, folks, we all need to start downing lots of Canadian maple syrup for a confidence boost. Thursday will see if Fernandez’s and Auger Aliassime’s Canadian fairytale run continues.