A first for Leylah Fernandez

A big first for Leylah Fernandez


TORONTO | It was tougher than expected, but for the first time in her young career, Leylah Fernandez won a game ahead of her own , late yesterday in Toronto. 

Ranked 13th favorite of the National Bank Open, the Quebecer won 6-4, 6-7 (2) and 6-3 against the Australian qualifier Storm Sanders, 273rd. 

“I am so happy to have been able to win in front of my supporters! rejoiced Leylah at a press conference. But also, that my body is not sore after the end of the match. »

At only 19 years old, Fernandez was in his third appearance in the main draw of the Canadian tournament. Last year, she suffered a heartbreaking setback in Montreal, when the match against Briton Harriet Dart seemed within reach. 

But the young player was not going to make such a mistake twice. Especially not after having had to sit out competition for two months with a stress fracture in his foot. 

Thanks to the crowd

Leylah was thrilled in the last few days at the idea of ​​making her return here, in front of her fans and also, several members of her family. 

And the public devoted to her cause gave her the well done. Originally scheduled for 7 p.m., the meeting was postponed in the middle of the evening due to the rain that had hit the Queen City for a few hours. 

The darling of the crowd entered the field to cheers and “let's goLeylah ! » obviously made themselves heard several times on the cool Toronto night. 

“I don't think I could have won without the support of the public [yesterday],” she said. recognized. 

Because as was to be expected after a long break, the 13th racket of the WTA seemed a little rusty at the start of the confrontation. 

The first set gave rise to several long games, even though Sanders, 27, had few weapons on serve. 

Fernandez ended up taking advantage of it, at the best time. She gave herself a break point at 5-4 and, no doubt feeling the pressure, the Aussie then double faulted, giving her the opening set. 

Bad tiebreaker 

Sanders – more of a regular at doubles, a specialty in which she ranks 20th in the world – however quickly recovered in the second set, pocketing the entry break.

But Fernandez came back to 2-2, then seemed on course to repeat the scenario of the initial round. She took advantage of two match points at 5-4, on her opponent's serve, but each time Sanders got away with it. 

This second set was therefore played at tiebreaker, which the native Laval player started with a convincing serve. But the sequel was all to the advantage of the Australian, to the great dismay of the spectators. 

Roller coaster

Not dejected at the idea of ​​having to play a final round, Fernandez quickly showed her teeth. 

Of course, she had a little scare in the fourth game, trailing 0- 30 on her serve, but she managed to come back up the slope. 

Then, Leylah immediately broke her rival of the day and apart from a complicated eighth game, during which she erased three break points , the rest of this match was all to the advantage of the Quebecer. 

“There was everything in this meeting, she pointed out. Good times, tough ones, spectacular points from both players. It was a roller coaster.  

“My game isn't quite where I'd like it to be,” she added, “but I'm glad I worked hard on the mental side of it. training to be able to win.

The latter will face in the second round Beatriz Haddad Maia, 24th in the world and faller of the Italian Martina Trevisan (26th) yesterday.

Leylah has already beaten the Brazilian this year. It was in the semi-finals in Monterrey, Mexico, a tournament where she won the second title of her career. 

Two Canadian women could have advanced to the second round , yesterday. Toronto's Katherine Sebov, 299th in the world, fought a great battle against Kazakh Yulia Putintseva. But the 46th in the world eventually prevailed 3-6, 6-2 and 7-5.

Leylah will be back on the court today in doubles, in company of his youngest Bianca.