Leylah Fernandez stretches for a backhand in the first round of Wimbledon 2023

Photo – Martin Sidorjak

Leylah Annie Fernandez kicked off her Wimbledon campaign in strong fashion, defeating Italy’s Lucia Bronzetti 6-4, 6-3 to advance to the second round.

The 21-year-old Canadian struck 21 winners and broke serve three times to win the opening round clash in 1 hour and 30 minutes.

It’s just her second career singles win at the All England Club.

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Initially, it was the Italian who played strong, attacking tennis in the early stages.

The 25-year-old, ranked #81 in the world, began the first set with a break of serve, dictating play to move ahead 2-0.

However, the 30th seed was quick to respond, playing tightly to the baseline and hitting punishing returns to break back and return the match to even terms at 4-4.

A lengthy deuce game would see the Canadian gain the upper hand, as the Italian hit a pair of errors to give Fernandez the first set, 6-4.

The second set opened on even terms with both competitors looking to keep points short by attacking in the early stages of rallies.

The former 2021 US Open finalist was rewarded for her aggressive play at 3-2, as she struck a series of baseline winners to earn a pivotal break.

While Bronzetti resisted a match point opportunity to briefly stay in the contest and hold for 3-5, it would do little to slow down the Canadian. Fernandez closed the match out on her serve, securing a place in round of 64.

See: Monday Digest – Canadians arrive in form at Wimbledon

With the win, the former US Open finalist has matched her career best result at Wimbledon as she enjoys a breakthrough in form on the surface.

The Canadian is now 7-2 on the grass courts in 2024, with a finals run at Eastbourne, and a trip to the quarterfinals of Birmingham.

She will face veteran Caroline Wozniacki in the second round.

Siniakova overwhelms Stakusic

Meanwhile, Czechia’s Katerina Siniakova showed her class and experience, defeating Canadian teenager Marina Stakusic 6-4, 6-2 in 1 hour and 47 minutes to advance to the second round.

The 27th seed hit 34 winners and broke serve four times to overcome the 19-year-old, who was making her Grand Slam main draw debut at the All England Club.

After trading breaks to begin the match, the competitors stayed level until midway through the opening set as Siniakova applied significant pressure on return at 3-all.

Following a double fault from Stakusic, the the two-time Wimbledon doubles champion broke for a 4-3 lead with a clean forehand winner.

She would stave off one break point chance for the Canadian before holding serve to seal the opening set 6-4.

The 28-year-old continued her strong form through the second, using her precise groundstrokes to break for an early 2-1 advantage.

The Canadian fought admirably to stay in the match, staving off six break point chances to secure a crucial hold for 2-3.

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With Stakusic serving down 2-4, the opponents squared off in an eleven-deuce game, before the Czechian finally converting on a fourth break point chance to gain a 5-2 stranglehold.

She would close out the match to love on serve to advance to the second round at the All England Club for the third time in her career.

Siniakova finished a perfect 12/12 at the net and won 72% of first serve points in the victory.

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Despite the loss, Stakusic managed to save 20 of 24 break points faced in the encounter.

The Canadian reached the main draw of Wimbledon for the first time, securing three wins in qualifying and now stands at 17-11 overall in matches played this season.

Siniakova advances to face Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan next.