After the unexpected defeat of his compatriot Félix Auger-Aliassime against a player less well classified than him earlier in the day, Leylah Annie Fernandez reversed the tables yesterday by winning a surprise victory against the 31st seed of the International tennis tournament of France.
The 18-year-old Laval woman, 100th in the world, defeated Poland's Magda Linette in three sets of 1-6, 6-2 and 6-3, in a game played in cool weather and under the spotlight.
She joined another Quebecer, Eugenie Bouchard, who had also reached the second round the day before, by winning against the Russian Anna Kalinskaya.
The meeting had started badly for Fernandez, victim of three service breakdowns in a one-sided first round dominated by her rival who occupies 36th place in the WTA.
But a ten-minute visit to the locker room before starting the second set completely changed the pace of the game. After breaking free from her long-sleeved sweater, Fernandez, right off the bat, broke her 28-year-old rival. The tone was set.
For the benefit of mostly successful cushioning, she managed to tie the score at the end of the middle heat. Then, in the third set, the left-hander managed to forge a 4-0 lead from which Linette never recovered.
“I have always believed in my chances”
“Even when I was down 1-4 and even 1-5 in the first set, I always believed in my chances of coming back to the game and winning it,” she said during her press briefing . When I left the locker room, I just tried to find my rhythm.
“In the first set, I made a lot of mistakes and Magda played really well,” added Fernandez. In the second set, I wanted to put in one more ball to increase the pressure.
“After that, when she started to make mistakes, I was able to make some winning shots. ”
$ 130,000 richer
Fernandez wins a second clash in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament, but his first at the expense of a seed.
At the recent US Open, she eliminated Russia's Vera Zvonareva, before losing in the second round to American Sofia Kenin, Australian Open champion at the start of the year.
It is also her first success on the clay courts of Paris in the professional ranks, she who had been crowned champion in the juniors there in 2019.
Not only does this victory assure him of climbing at least eight places in the world rankings, it also allows him to enrich himself with approximately 130,000 Canadian dollars. Amount which will obviously be revised upwards if it reaches the third round.
Fernandez now has a date with the Slovenian Polona Hercog (29), who currently occupies the 47th echelon of the WTA.
“I've never faced her, but I've seen her play a few times on TV,” she said. I know she is a very good player. In fact, all those who are in Grand Slams are good players. There is no easy match. ”
Hercog knocked out French qualifier Diane Parry in two sets of 6-4 and 6-2. Parry is Fernandez's doubles partner at the same tournament in Paris.
End of the first round
Today will mark the end of the first round and the debut of Canadians Denis Shapovalov and Vasek Pospisil, who will face France's Gilles Simon and Italy's Matteo Berrettini respectively.
As for Bouchard, she should return to competition tomorrow against the Australian Daria Gavrilova.