- Canadian star Leylah Fernandez has reached her first career Grand Slam final at just 19 years old.
- The lefty has been calm, collected, and dominant throughout her surprise run at the 2021 US Open.
- Her dad, however, admitted that he “swears like a drunken sailor” while watching his daughter play.
Teenage tennis sensation Leylah Fernandez has been calm, cool, and collected throughout her impressive — and unexpected — run to her first-ever Grand Slam final at the 2021 US Open.
But Jorge Fernandez, the Canadian star’s father who doubles as her coach, isn’t nearly as composed as his 19-year-old daughter during her matches. In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Jorge admitted that he “swears like a drunken sailor” while watching Leylah compete from afar.
While his wife, Irene, sits courtside in their daughter’s box at the New York tournament, Jorge is glued to his television as he follows along from home in Boynton Beach, Florida. The closed-door viewing experience offers Jorge privacy when he drops some unsavory language — but Leylah’s other-worldly stretch in Flushing Meadows justifies an expletive or two from her dad.
The young star — who turned 19 during the US Open — cruised to straight-set victories in her first- and second-round matches. But few expected the wunderkind to best reigning champion and former world No. 1 Naomi Osaka in their third-round matchup. However, Fernandez bounced back from dropping the first set 5-7 to win a tie-break in the second and down Osaka 6-4 in the third.
Fernandez didn’t waver as she took down tennis titan after tennis titan en route to the championship match. Much like she did with Osaka, Fernandez recovered from a first-set deficit to upset three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber in the round of 16.
Fernandez jumped out to an early lead in the quarterfinal but had to battle through a third-set tiebreak to secure a win over world No. 5 Elina Svitolina. Then, in Thursday’s semifinal, she again endured a three-set marathon against world No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka to advance to the title match.
While his daughter deserves all of the credit for executing under tennis’ brightest lights, Jorge has received recognition for successfully coaching Leylah to the top despite not having previous experience in the sport.
His secret, he says, is knowing nothing.
“You know, I tell her, ‘The art of being a great coach is understanding that you know nothing,'” Jorge told The Globe and Mail. “And when you know nothing, all you do is get hungry to find out.”