Leylah Fernandez prepares to hit a shot.

Photo : Martin Sidorjak

by Jonathan Yue

Action from the All-England Club officially got underway as Canada’s Leylah Annie Fernandez kicked off her pursuit for a historic Wimbledon Championship title for the Canadians on Monday.

However, she is so far alone in advancing on day one of the Championships as Félix Auger-Aliassime fell in the first round for the second year in a row. Denis Shapovalov got his campaign underway as well, but the match was suspend at 2-2 in the second set.

Coming off an appearance in the French Open doubles final, the 21-year-old Canadian translated her doubles success onto the grass courts against Ukraine’s Kateryna Baindl, earning her first career senior victory at Wimbledon 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

Overcoming an early break opportunity from Baindl in the first game of the match, Fernandez utilized her strong forehand to break the Ukrainian and take a 2-0. The two competitors would continue to trade break opportunities, with Baindl getting on the board before tying the set at 2-2.

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Settling into the match, Fernandez continued to put pressure on the 29-year-old Ukrainian’s serve, challenging with five break point opportunities before the match was suspended on-serve at 4-4 due to rain.

Coming out of the delay, Fernandez stormed out with by holding serve at love and commanding the court, winning seven points in a row, breaking Baindl’s serve and taking the first set 6-4.

With momentum on her side, Fernandez continued to show aggression, attacking the net (4/4 on net points) to earn a 1-0 lead by taking away any opportunity for the Ukrainian to get the ball past her.

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But already down a set, Baindl would not go down without a fight, breaking the Canadian’s next service game before weaponizing her serve to go up 3-1. Broken for a second time in the set and with the wind quickly becoming a factor on Court 14, Fernandez continued to dig deep, fighting off two set points to bring it to 3-5, before converting on a smart forehand drop shot to bring the deficit to 4-5.

Wanting to fight off another service game from Baindl, the Canadian turned defence into offence, including painting her backhand down the line, but it would not be enough as Baindl served out the set 6-4, evening the match at a set apiece.

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In the deciding third set, the two took turns breaking each other’s serves in the first two games, before trading breaks at 3-3. Breaking Baindl’s serve one last time, Fernandez closed out the third set 6-4 with a combination of her strong net play (75% won) and seven aces in the match that overshadowed her 10 double faults, allowing the Canadian to move onto the second round at the Wimbledon for the first time in her career.

Next up for Fernandez will be No. 5 seed, Carolina Garcia of France on Wednesday.

Auger-Aliassime Shows Flashes but Comes Up Short

After taking a month off to recover and re-energize from an injury, Felix Auger-Aliassime contested his first match since Roland-Garros on Monday against the lucky loser Michael Mmoh of the United States.

In the first match between the two, Auger-Aliassime showed glimpses of better form, but was not able to pull away from the close competition, falling in four sets, 7-6 (4), 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4), 6-4.

Auger-Aliassime and Mmoh were both quick to get down to business, winning the first three service games at love. Showcasing his court coverage and mobility around the court along with six aces in the first set, Auger-Aliassime seemed in fine form on the grass courts.

Following nearly an hour and a half rain delay, the North American opponents continue to trade service games. Neither players were able to find a window until the tiebreaker, where Mmoh took advantage of an Auger-Aliassime double fault to down the Canadian 7-4.

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There was little to separate the two in the second set, trading service games on Court 12 while testing each other’s strengths. Mmoh continued his strong serving, while Auger-Aliassime found momentum with aggression, winning 82 percent of points when he attacked the net. After failing to capitalize on a break to close out the second set, Auger-Aliassime and Mmoh were off to the tiebreak once again. This time it was the Canadian who came out on top 7-4.

The evenly-matched contest continued into the third set, with both players keeping the rallies short. It was 5-5 when the Mmoh broke Auger-Aliassime’s serve, but the Canadian broke back to once again send the set into the tiebreaker. After going up 4-1, Auger-Aliassime couldn’t close it out, as Mmoh came back to take another 7-4 tiebreak.

The fourth set was filled with more toe-to-toe action, but it turned out to be the final set as No. 11 seed Auger-Aliassime came up with the double fault to give the American Mmoh the victory, taking the final set 6-4 and closing out the match in four hours.