Leylah Annie Fernandez prepares to hit a slice.

Photo : Martin Sidorjak

It was at this time last year that Iga Świątek stepped up and started to become the player the world would come to know as the most dominant force in the women’s game.

One year on, little has changed.

Leylah Annie Fernandez learned that the hard way on Tuesday in Dubai. The Canadian’s campaign at the first WTA 1000 event of the season came to an end in round two at the hands of the world No. 1 in straight sets.

At times in the match it looked like Fernandez’s stiff counterpunching might cause the three-time major champion problems, but every time Świątek had all the answers as she picked up where she left off last week in Doha, defeating the Canadian 6-1, 6-1.

Few players are better on the tour at drawing errors out of opponents than Świątek and that was on full display in this match as Fernandez committed 23 unforced errors, while only finding eight winners to the Pole’s 17. The top seed was ruthless on break point, converting six of her seven opportunities while saving two of the three she faced.

Fernandez tried to send a message to Świątek right from the first ball, stepping up to the baseline and taking every ball, including the return of serve, as early as possible. She had mixed results in the first game, missing a bunch of returns but still managing to push the top seed to deuce.

However, the overall message did not have the desired effect as Świątek swiftly broke serve courtesy of back-to-back errors to take a 2-0 lead. An unfortunate net cord two games later made it a double break.

At 4-0, Świątek got a bit complacent and fired a backhand wide to surrender one of the breaks back. It was the first game she had lost since the opening set of last week’s final in Doha, ending a run of 12 consecutive games. But the world No. 1 was unphased, breaking for a third time and then closing out the first set with an ace.

She continued to roll at the start of the second set while Fernandez continued to spray errors, particularly off her forehand wing. Another miss gave Świątek a break to start the set.

Despite falling behind quickly, Fernandez upped her level in the second and began give Świątek more trouble. But every time she pushed, the world No. 1 pushed back even harder.

Read also: Fernandez reaches Dubai second round

In the fourth game, the Canadian had a 15-40 opening to level the set, but some amazing defence from Świątek erased the threat and she immediately turned around and broke serve in the next game. Fernandez then had a love-30 opening in the sixth game, but would not win a point for the rest of the match as Świątek won four straight to erase then threat and then broke to love to close it out.

With Fernandez’s defeat, there are no Canadians left in the singles draw after Bianca Andreescu lost to Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina on Monday. Fernandez is still alive in the doubles, where she is competing alongside Bethanie Mattek-Sands and is already into the second round.