July 15, 2024

Open Court

MORE TENNIS THAN YOU'LL EVER NEED

Bencic next for victorious Fernandez in Miami

MIAMI, Fla. – It’s been a bit of a roller-coaster this season for Leylah Fernandez, who finds her ranking outside the top 50 and, thus, has gotten some tough draws.

But on Wednesday, after an 0-4 start in the first set against Ukrainian veteran Lesia Tsurenko, she found the right path to victory.

The score – 6-4, 6-3 for Fernandez – doesn’t fully illustrate the battle it was.

But after an error-filled start, Fernandez ran the table in the first set. And after being down a break in the second set, she also got on a roll.

Here’s what it looked like.

“She played very well the first four games. I was a bit nervous, I came in, I just wanted to play my patterns and she started very strong. She’s player with a lot of experience who took control of the points very quickly. But I’m happy I was able to stay as calm as possible and find solutions,” Fernandez said after the match. “I made a lot of errors. The most important for me was to attack first, and not be on defence right away. So I’m happy I was able to put the ball in play, and then take control as soon as possible.”

It looked, from the outside, that Tsurenko realized that Fernandez was giving away a lot of points early. And so from an aggressive start, she regressed a little bit to just making balls, giving the Canadian the opportunity to make more.

Except she stopped making them. And by the time Tsurenko realized she had to go on the attack again, the first set was gone.

“Even at 0-4 I thought, I’ve got this. It’s okay. I can come back. I’ve come back from 1-5, 2-5 in the past, I can do it here. I have a lot of confidence in myself, and I think that helped a lot,” Fernandez said.

After that, in the second set, Fernandez kept her level.

“My tennis is coming along. We’re working hard in practice to come back to being offensive and playing my came. It’s not easy to play against high-calibre players, but little by little I’m able to impose my game, that’s the most important,” she said. We’re not looking at wins or losses so much, just that I’m improving in matches.”

Fernandez gets Bencic next.

The two played THREE times in 2022, and twice for their countries overall

Fernandez won the first two; Bencic won the last two.

The match at Roland Garros was an absolute battle, as was the one last fall in Guadalajara (a tough draw for both in the round of 64 at a WTA 1000).

“It’s going to be a very tough match. I’ve played against her a lot in the last year. I know her well, she knows me well. It’s going to be very interesting,” Fernandez said.

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