Photo : Martin Sidorjak
Leylah Annie Fernandez was the last Canadian eliminated from the Madrid Open late on Friday as she and partner Taylor Townsend lost a tight semi-final clash to Beatriz Haddad Maia and Victoria Azarenka in three sets.
In a match where every player struggled to hang onto their serve, the Canadian-American duo had plenty of chances to take control of the match, taking big leads in both sets. But when the pressure was on in the super tiebreak, it was Azarenka and Haddad Maia who held their nerve to advance to the final with a 6-4, 0-6, [10-6] victory.
Service breaks came quick and often in the match as there were more breaks of serve than holds. Fernandez and Townsend converted six of their 12 break point opportunities while saving five of nine against their own serve. Both teams won less than 50 per cent of their service points.
Overall, there were only three service games in the match without a break point.
The North American squad got off to a quick start, breaking twice on their way to a 3-0 lead. But Azarenka and Haddad Maia responded with three straight games of their own to level.
After an exchange of breaks for 4-4, a critical hold of serve set up Azarenka and Haddad Maia to claim the set as they broke again in the 10th game.
Once again, Fernandez and Townsend broke to start the second set but this time they did not let their foot off the gas, racing through the second set with three breaks and saving the only two break points they faced to dish out a bagel and force a super tiebreak.
Like the first two sets, the tiebreak saw the servers struggle. Seven of the first nine points went to the returner, with only Azarenka able to win points on her own delivery. She and Haddad Maia won six points in a row for a 6-1 lead and despite the North American team getting as close as two points at 4-6 and 6-8, they never managed to reel their opponents back in.
In the end, Fernandez and Townsend actually won four more total points.
Another WTA 1000 is next on the schedule for Fernandez starting next week in Rome.