Leylah Annie Fernandez prepares to return a serve at the 2022 Australian Open

Photo: Martin Sidorjak

Canadian and No. 23 seed Leylah Annie Fernandez made an early exit at the Australian Open following a 6-4, 6-2 defeat to wild card Maddison Inglis in the tournament’s opening round on Monday night.

The 19-year-old entered the year’s first Grand Slam hot on the heels of a round-of-16 appearance at the WTA 500 Adelaide International, her first competitive action of 2022. This was her fourth career meeting, and her third in singles, with Inglis having beaten the Australian in the round of 16 at the 2019 Canberra 2 tournament and in the quarter-finals of the Granby National Bank Challenger, also in 2019.

The match against Inglis marked the first time Fernandez had stepped onto a Grand Slam court since her mesmerising run to the final of the US Open last September, where she exploded onto the global scene with three victories over Top 5 players. And, despite the Australian playing on home turf, there was noticeably vocal support for Fernandez inside 1573 Arena.

However, it was Inglis that jumped out to an early lead in the first set as Fernandez double faulted to hand the 24-year-old two break point opportunities. Having served an ace on the first, the Canadian double faulted again on the second to hand her opponent a *4-3 lead, which she consolidated to 5-3. Serving for the set, Inglis kept her composure and forced Fernandez into one or two errors on her way to clinching it 6-4.

The second set began with another break for Inglis, who was relishing her opportunity against the No. 23 seed and playing inspired tennis. It was one of those occasions where everything seemed to be going right for one player and the ball just wouldn’t fall for the other. A frustrating series of points saw Fernandez drop serve again to grow Inglis’ lead to *3-0.

Canadian tennis fans witnessed the Quebecer produce some stunning, awe-inspiring comebacks in New York, but she couldn’t repeat those feats here as her Australian opponent shook off some nerves, and relied on some big serves, to see out the match and seal her first-career Grand Slam main draw victory.