Written by Staff Writer
Rising tennis star Leylah Fernandez continued her meteoric rise on Wednesday, knocking out the tournament’s highest seed to make the semi-finals of the LPGA Arkansas Championship in Rogers.
Fernandez, 17, posted her first victory since turning professional last year, defeating Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, the world number four, in three sets, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3. Svitolina had held the only female unassailable lead in the main draw this week, but was brought to her knees by Fernandez, who fired 25 aces and 22 double faults during the match.
The teenager will now face another Polish player in the semi-finals after Agnieszka Radwanska advanced to the final four with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Australian Karrie Webb.
But it was not all good news for Svitolina. The world number four, who won this tournament in 2015 and last year, could only manage a 75% success rate on her first serve, meaning she dropped nine points and won only seven points in the third set.
Svitolina’s defeat means “Sergey” Khristoforov of Kazakhstan will be her opponent in the semi-finals after he topped a re-jigged top eight seeds on Wednesday. Khristoforov beat Vasek Pospisil of Canada 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.
In her first LPGA Tour victory since turning professional in May 2016, Fernandez pocketed an impressive $261,400 prize money, double that of Svitolina.
The teenager from Texas is in the final four of a women’s professional tennis tournament for the first time — and has already met the two women she will face in the semi-finals.
Radwanska played Fernandez in last year’s final at the Indian Wells tournament, and the Polish player repeated the task in Rogers with a convincing win over Webb.