PARIS | Leylah Fernandez’s career at Roland-Garros has been talking for a few days now, so much so that some media are beginning to nickname the young Quebecer “Clay-lah”.
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This contraction of the English translation of “clay” and her first name “Leylah” suited her perfectly on Sunday, when she qualified for the quarterfinals in Paris for the first time in her young career.
Combative on this surface that often pushes players to their limits, the 19-year-old Lavallois put up another fight in this 6-3 4-6 6-3 victory at the expense of 27th-seeded American Amanda Anisimova.
“It was a very difficult match, Leylah admitted a little tired at a press conference, after this confrontation of almost 2 hours. But it was an amazing match for both of them. »
As he had done two days before against the Swiss Belinda Bencic (14), Fernández began the confrontation with aggressiveness and speed, led by two breaks.
The beautiful machine, however, has gradually gone mad, in particular, due to the generosity at the service of the Quebecois. He still managed to pocket the set on his second chance.
Anisimova comes back strong
This forceful ending to the set foreshadowed that the 20-year-old American, a semi-finalist in Paris three years ago, was not done with this match.
And indeed, Anisimova began to walk with Leylah from right to left. He posted no fewer than 18 game-winners in that set, leaving Fernandez unanswered.
At least momentarily. Because as in the third round, the young racket came back with a bang in the final round. She broke in game five and never looked back.
“We played at a very high level, pointed out the 17th seed, and I am happy that we were able to go through some difficult moments in this match to have an additional opportunity to play at Philippe-Chatrier. [où était disputé le match dimanche midi, heure de France.] »
In her first appearance in the Roland-Garros quarterfinals among the professionals, the champion of the junior edition of 2019 will cross swords this Tuesday with a left foot like her, the Italian Martina Trevisan.
Leylah has never faced the 59 in the world, who at 28 is in the best position of her career. Trevisan is one of the many surprises in this women’s draw, which only has one player in the top 10: the number 1, the Polish Iga Swiatek.
Fernandez is also the third highest-ranked player still in contention. Between her and Swiatek is American Jessica Pegula, seeded 11th.
The two girls are at the top of the frame and the Quebecois at the bottom. But despite this catastrophe among the favorites and despite his good track record in the Parisian ochre, ‘Clay-Lah’ refuses to see a gap until the final.
“All the players that are at this stage of the tournament are excellent,” he said. I work very hard, but they also have this winning mentality. »
Happy to have played against Thierry Henry
PARIS | Large influx of visitors in the stands of Philippe-Chatrier on Sunday, for the round of 16 matches between Quebec’s Leylah Fernández and American Amanda Anisimova, at Roland-Garros. Thierry Henry appeared on the giant screen in the middle of the game.
The former French international – and former CF Montreal manager – was also seen applauding, and standing, after Lavalloise’s victory.
A huge soccer fan, Leylah was particularly delighted to see this big name in “football” savoring her performance. She also underlined it during the on-the-spot interview with 2013 Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli of France.
“I am very happy to have played against Thierry Henry! she smiled at the crowd.
“When I saw that he was there and that he was enjoying the game, I was very happy, because it is one of my goals, that people appreciate my tennis,” he said at a press conference.
“And to see him give a standing ovation after the game, it was great,” added the 17th seed.
Fernández did not watch the Champions League final, which took place on Saturday night, Paris time, at the Stade de France between Liverpool and Real Madrid.
And he didn’t go lightly: he skipped the meeting because he had to “go to bed early.”
That’s how he learned on Sunday morning that Real Madrid, one of his favorite clubs, had won 1-0.
Nadal was there
Unlike the Quebecer, the Spaniard Rafael Nadal was present for the coronation of the Real, his team. Images of the fifth seed being harassed by fans as he tried to enter the stadium circulated online on Sunday.
As the Champions League final and Roland-Garros are usually played at the same time, and rarely in the same country, “Rafa” had never had the opportunity to see this final match in person.
Although he showed up at 9:00 p.m., and the kick-off was delayed 35 minutes for the horde of fans to settle in (which incidentally caused excesses and a hundred arrests), Nadal also said he went to bed quite early.
At least, enough to sign a victory in five days against Félix Auger-Aliassime at the beginning of the evening.
“Given the late hour, I didn’t stay for the celebrations,” lamented the winner of 13 Roland-Garros titles.
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