It might not have been the storybook ending Leylah Annie Fernandez was looking for after making her first WTA tournament final in her first appearance, but what a superb week it was for the young Canadian.

After winning twelve sets in a row, Fernandez was defeated by World No. 69 Heather Watson 6-4, 6-7(8), 6-1 in the final of the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presented by HSBC on Saturday night.

In front of a packed, raucous crowd at the Grand Stand Caliente in Acapulco, Mexico, LAF continued her excellent stretch of tennis, but ran into an opponent who just wouldn’t be denied.

Win or lose, what an incredible coming out week it was for Fernandez. She’s quickly becoming a household name for tennis fans across Canada, and she’s still seven months shy of her 18th birthday.

Watson came out of the gate with a real sense of purpose in the first set, breaking Fernandez in her first two service games to take a commanding 4-0 lead in the set. LAF was able to battle back though, getting a break back and putting pressure on Watson with the Brit on serve at 5-4.

But the Montreal, Quebec native was unable to build on her momentum and break again, losing the final game to drop the opening set.

The second set was much of the same story, with both players struggling to hold a service game. There was some excellent full-court tennis being played by both the Canadian qualifier and the British seventh seed.

Fernandez was again broken in her first service opportunity, but she was able to break Watson back, this time three games later. With the way the two ladies were playing, it seemed inevitable that the set was headed for a tiebreak.

Fernandez was oh so close to forcing a final set on two straight occasions before that, though; late in the set she was up 5-4 with Watson serving and had two set points, but was unable to win either.

She set herself up with another two break and set points yet again at 6-5, but was just unable to solve Watson.

That’s tennis, and converting break points are easier said than done. LAF was unable to get the breakthrough she needed, and the second set was off to a tiebreak.

The highlight of the tiebreak was Fernandez staving off an astounding four straight match points. Ice in the veins is an understatement, with LAF continuing to match Watson shot for shot.

After that, she just couldn’t lose the tiebreak. It took two set points, and another fought off match point, but when the dust settled, the second set belonged to Fernandez.

And so it was that the final women’s match at the Mexican Open needed a decisive third set.

Unfortunately, it was the experience that got the better of the youth. The 27-year-old Watson dominated the final set from start to finish, breaking Fernandez two out of three times to win the WTA International tournaments event.

It was a grueling, nearly three hour match that both players clearly poured their hearts into, but there could only be one winner.

Watson may have put an end to Fernandez’s incredible breakout tournament, but the Canadian turned the heads of tennis fans across Canada with her performance all week. She’ll jump from 190 to 126 in the world rankings on Monday.

It wasn’t the way Fernandez wanted it to end, but the way she’s playing, there will be many more WTA finals in the young phenom’s future.

Fichman reaches final in doubles

And after a fantastic week in the doubles draw, Sharon Fichman was just shy of a championship with partner Kateryna Bondarenko earlier in the day.

The duo were defeated by second seed Giuliana Olmos and Desirae Krawczyk 6-3, 7-6(5) in the doubles final.

Fichman has really found her game in doubles in 2020, making it to at least the semi-finals in three of the six tournaments she’s played in.

After a loss in the semi-finals in St. Petersburg last week, Fichman reunited with Bondarenko and made an impressive run right to the end in Mexico.

The team were unable to capitalize on two break point opportunities in their opponent’s first service game, and were broken just two games later. Although the Canadian and the Ukrainian were able to break back immediately after, they couldn’t hold at 4-3, and were unable to recover after that.

It took three set points, but the opener eventually went to Olmos and Krawczyk in the 35-minute set.

In the second set, there were as many breaks as there were held service games. With the score 3-2, an astounding seven of the last eight service games were breaks, which led to a tiebreak to decide the second set.

Although the decider went right down to the wire at 5-5, it just wasn’t meant to be for Fichman this time around. Olmos and Krawczyk were able to seal the victory by winning the last two points.

Even with the disappointing losses for both Fernandez and Fichman, what an unbelievable week it was for the two Canadians.

With the 2020 tennis season in full swing, it seems like more Canadians than ever have a chance to win any tournament they’re entered in.

Indian Wells is coming up and there’s much more tennis to be played this year. One thing’s for sure: it’s an exciting time to be a Canadian tennis fan.

(Feature image: @AbiertoTelcel)