leylah forehand

Photo : Martin Sidorjak

Leylah Fernandez, Canada’s last hope at the 2021 French Open in singles, lost her second round match against American Madison Keys 6-1, 7-5 on Wednesday.

The 18-year-old Canadian was playing in the fifth Grand Slam of her career and now holds a 4-5 record in those five appearances. Fernandez’s best Grand Slam result was at the 2020 French Open, where she eventually lost in the third round to the No. 7 seed Petra Kvitová.

On Sunday, Fernandez cruised by Russia’s Anastasia Potapova 6-2, 6-1 in her opening round clash. Fernandez committed only one double fault – a category she has struggled with in the past.

In today’s contest, her service game wasn’t as clean as she would have hoped. The back-to-back double faults in her first service game gave Keys two break point opportunities. The American converted on her second and took an early 2-0 first set lead.

The remainder of the set was dominated by Keys who looked as sharp as she did at Roland Garros in 2018, where she won five consecutive straight set matches up until her semi-final loss to compatriot Sloane Stephens.

There was a bit of a scary moment following the first set in today’s match. Keys asked for a medical timeout and had her blood pressure checked by the medical staff. Fortunately, she was able to continue playing as the issue seemed minor.

It was a much more competitive second set. Although Fernandez was broken first, she was tenacious in the sixth game and eventually broke back her opponent on her fourth opportunity.

In the very next game, Keys halted the Canadian’s momentum by sending a brilliant backhand that Fernandez sent back into the net. That was Keys’ second break of serve in the set and the American took a 4-3 set lead.

The No. 23 seed had a clean service game in the eighth and tried to close out Fernandez in the ninth. The 18-year-old showed no quit, fought off three match points, and then broke her opponent in the 10th game to extend the match.

However, Keys held her ground in the 11th and 12th games and wrapped up the second round battle. After one hour and 33 minutes, Keys advances to the third round of the French Open for the fifth time in her career.

Fernandez shifts her focus to doubles, where she is competing with fellow Canadian Gabriela Dabrowski. The pair played together two weeks ago in Belgrade at the Serbia Open and lost their only match 3-6, 7-6(5), 10-8.

Hoping for a different result in Paris, the pair faces off Thursday against Georgina García Pérez from Spain and Julia Wachaczyk.

Other doubles news

Canadian Sharon Fichman, who’s playing alongside Giuliana Olmos from Mexico, won her first round match earlier today 6-3, 6-2. The duo reached the quarter-final of the 2021 Australian Open and won their first WTA 1000 title together at the Italian Open just over two weeks ago.