Canadian Leylah Fernandez (Laval, QC) won the first WTA title of her young career on Sunday, beating Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic 6-1, 6-4 in the final of the WTA 250 Abierto GNP Seguros.
Fernandez had lost her only previous WTA final 6-4, 6-7(8), 6-1 to Great Britain’s Heather Watson in Acapulco, Mexico last year. En route to the final in Monterrey, Mexico, the 18-year-old from Quebec defeated CoCo Vandeweghe of the United States, Slovakia’s Kristína Kučová and Viktória Kužmová, as well as seventh seed Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain – who had beaten fellow Canadian Eugenie Bouchard in the final of the Abierto Zapopan in Guadalajara, Mexico last weekend.
Golubic, meanwhile, was playing for a second title of her career having won the 2016 event in Gstaad, Germany. She also reached the finals of the 2016 event in Linz, Austria and the Lyon Open in France earlier this year. The 28-year-old was a qualifier in Monterrey and made it to the final thanks to main draw victories over sixth seed Anna Blinkova of Russia, the United States’ Lauren Davis, Russia’s Anna Kalinskaya and eighth seed Ann Li of the United States.
Despite being ten years her junior, Fernandez seemed more composed than Golubic throughout their clash on Club Sonoma’s Estadio GNP Seguros. The magnitude of the match clearly had little impact on the Canadian’s nerves in the opening exchanges as she jumped out to an impressive 5-0 lead thanks to two well-deserved breaks of serve. That was more than enough to see her over the line in the first set, which she comfortably claimed 6-1.
Ranked 14 places above Golubic (No. 102) on the WTA Tour, Fernandez (No. 88) continued to impose her will on the match. Riding a wave of momentum, the Canadian was playing some of the best tennis of her career so far and enjoying particular success at the net.
However, down a break early in the second set, Golubic showed commendable resilience to bring proceedings back on serve and force Fernandez to wait a little longer for her victory. There would be no denying the Canadian the title, though, as Golubic dropped her serve again before Fernandez served out the match impeccably to claim her maiden WTA crown.
“When I was seeing everybody going to the court, the trophies and then I sat down, I took a few deep breathes and then I realized that I won,” Fernandez said in her post-match press conference. “It was just a little sad because my family isn’t here with me and we can’t celebrate as a family. It was a family effort for years. But I was very happy that the hard work, the sacrifices we’ve done since the beginning is paying off and then just hoping that there will be many more and this time my family can be there with me every step of the way in the tournament.”
“I just tried to think of it as another match,” she later added. “I just wanted to focus on my game, on executing the game plan my coaches were telling me, execute my practices and I think today was one of those days where my balls went in when it mattered the most and I’m just very happy with it and I’m happy that I was able to stay in the present moment and not wander to the future or stay in the past points.”