Leylah Fernandez hits a backhand. She beat Paula Badosa on Tuesday in Doha.

Photo : Martin Sidorjak

Leylah Annie Fernandez found another gear on Tuesday to score her first win over former World No. 2 Paula Badosa at the WTA 1000 event in Doha, taking down the Spaniard in a three-set comeback. 

Just when it seemed Fernandez was heading for a fourth consecutive loss to Badosa after a nightmare first set, the Canadian was able to turn the tide and made her opportunities count in the second and third set to claim a wild 0-6, 6-2, 6-3 win. 

While Badosa was strong when she landed her first serve, she only put it in play 56 per cent of the time and Fernandez took advantage, winning 59 per cent of her opponent’s second serve points. The Canadian kept Badosa under constant pressure, creating 15 break point chances in the match, converting four. 

The first set was closer than the score implies, but ultimately came down to who converted their chances. Fernandez had looks to break in two of Badosa’s three service games but was unable to convert any of her six break points. 

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In fact, the Canadian actually had more break point opportunities than her opponent in the first set. The difference was that Badosa was ruthless when the door opened for her, using her clean hitting to draw errors from Fernandez to convert all three of her break points and grab a bagel. 

The ratio of opportunities was similar in the second set, seven break points for the Canadian to three for the Spaniard, but this time Fernandez was able to start winning the big points which allowed her to turn the tide. 

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After missing two more chances to break in the second game, the Canadian finally won a break point to take a 3-1 lead. Then it was Badosa’s turn to start making mistakes on the big points as she fired a forehand long to give Fernandez a double-break at 5-1. 

While the former world No. 2 did manage to break Fernandez as she served for the set, there was no stopping the Canadian who laced a forehand winner down the line to make it three breaks of her own in the second and to extend the match. 

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Midway through the third, Badosa made a push with a pair of break points in both the fifth and seventh games, but Fernandez stood her ground and then made the Spaniard pay for the missed opportunities, ripping a backhand winner down the line to convert her lone break point of the set, which set her up to serve out the match, which she did to love, finishing with an ace. 

Fernandez’s draw in Doha has been tough and while she has impressed so far, it will not get any easier as her next opponent is fifth seed and recent Australian Open runner-up Qinwen Zheng. The Canadian won their lone previous meeting back in 2022 on the hardcourts of Monterrey at this same time of year.