At 18 years of age, Leylah Annie Fernandez was the youngest player left in the women’s main draw and the only Canadian left in singles action at the French Open. Playing in the third round at a Grand Slam for the first time in her career, she was taking on the no. 7 seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic.
The young Canadian showed some nerves in her opening service game, playing some shaky points, committing a few errors and a double fault. Despite going down the early break, Fernandez quickly gained her confidence back and raced off to a 5-1 led in the set. She continued to mix in a variety of shots in her game, a strategy that has served her very well so far in the tournament. In addition to her characteristic strong baseline hitting, Fernandez was also effective in her drop shots and approaches to the net.
While the 18-year-old seemed in control of the first set, her experienced opponent was not to be taken lightly. A two-time Grand Slam champion, Kvitova dug deep to come back and take the lead in the match.
In the second, it was Fernandez who found herself down by two early breaks. But she demonstrated resilience and a great fighting spirit, unwilling to give up on any of the points. Although she managed to get one of the breaks back, it was not enough against a Kvitova who was in top form. After just under two hours of play, Fernandez fell by a score of 7-5, 6-3.
The young Canadian has been making waves on the WTA tour since the start of the year, reaching the final in Acapulco and notching a win against a Top 5 player in Fed Cup action. If she went in to the French Open as a relative unknown to some, she came out of the tournament as an exciting young player who has definitely put herself on the map internationally.
Thanks to her performance at the French Open, Fernandez will move up around 13 spots in the rankings, where she will hover around the No. 87 spot.