Photo – Wimbledon

Leylah Annie Fernandez fought past Madison Keys 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to advance to the finals of the Rothesay International in Eastbourne on Friday.

The Canadian struck 22 winners and converted four of 10 break point chances as she overcame the defending champion in a tough three-set clash in 2 hours and three minutes to reach her first career grass-court final.

In a showdown of two former US Open finalists, it was Fernandez applying the early pressure in the contest.

While Keys looked to dictate play with her booming groundstrokes, the Canadian was keen to redirect from the baseline, doing so effectively to break early for the early 2-0 lead.

While the competitors would trade breaks, the 2021 US Open finalist stayed on the front foot, hugging the baseline tightly as she pushed ahead 5-2.

The competitor from Laval, who yesterday was named to Canada’s Olympic team, would close out the opener on serve at love, 6-3 in 39 minutes.

Read more: Team Canada’s Paris 2024 tennis team unveiled

However, the defending champion in Eastbourne began mounting her response in the second.

Utilizing her punishing groundstrokes, Keys found her second break of serve in the match to earn scoreboard control with a 3-0 lead.

In a set featuring a series of momentum swings, Fernandez capitalized on two unforced errors from the American, and found a backhand passing shot winner to retrieve the break and hold for 3-all.

Keys replied again with the highlight of the match, as she sprinted full speed to track down a drop shot and find a crosscourt angle winner to bring up break point on the Canadian’s serve.

With the bout of confidence, the eight-time WTA titlist rattled off the final three games to earn the second, 6-3.

Nonetheless, the three-time WTA titlist from Laval remained determined.

Fernandez capitalized on a pair of ill timed mistakes from the 29-year-old veteran, getting the first break of the set to lead 3-0. The edge would prove to be the difference.

Looking to close out the match, the Canadian staved off four break point chances for the American, finding a timely forehand winner from the back of the court to return to deuce.

On her second match point, Fernandez sealed the victory with an unreturned first serve.

See also: Olympic Tennis Primer

With the result, the 21-year-old is through to her sixth career WTA final and first since October of 2023. It’s also her first career win over the veteran American, evening their head-to-head at one match apiece.

Fernandez will meet Daria Kasatkina in the final.

Dabrowski and Routliffe reach Eastbourne final

Meanwhile, Canada’s Gaby Dabrowski and New Zealand’s Erin Routliffe rallied to defeat Cristina Bucsa and Makoto Ninomiya 6-7, 6-4, 10-8 to advance to the doubles final in Eastbourne.

The top seeds won 71% of their first serve points and staved off 10 of 11 break point chances from their opponents in the victory.

Dabrowski and Routliffe, who fell in a tough opening set in a tiebreak, made their move midway through the second.

At 3-all, they found a key break of serve against their Spanish and Japanese opponents.

They’d hold firm to close the second set 6-4, sending the match to a deciding super tiebreak.

After relinquishing an early 4-1 advantage, Dabrowski and Routliffe remained poised under pressure, and battled to move ahead 9-8.

They’d convert on their first match point opportunity to seal their place in the finals.

It’s the second final on grass-courts for the team this season. Last year’s US Open winners also won the Nottingham Open two weeks ago for their first title of 2024.

The duo will face Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko and Lyudmyla Kychenok of Ukraine in the championship match on Saturday.