September 21, 2023

Open Court


ROLAND GARROS – They’re just three months apart in age, and many inches apart in height. They both were top juniors and both have won two WTA Tour singles titles.

But Clara Tauson and Leylah Fernandez have never met in the pros.

That will change Wednesday, when they meet for a spot in the third round at Roland Garros.

Fernandez is a former world No. 13 and the 2021 US Open finalist, who’s had a tough go of it in the last year. She’s also a defending Roland Garros quarterfinalist.

Denmark’s Clara Tauson during qualifying last week at Roland Garros.

Tauson, whose career high of No. 33 game in Feb. 2022, has battled injuries for much of her young career, mostly back woes.

But back in Jan. 2019, they did meet. It was the final of the Australian Open junior girls’ singles, and Fernandez’s first big moment as a junior. (Four months later, she won the Roland Garros junior girls’ title over Emma Navarro).

Here’s what that looked like.

It was actually the fourth time they met within the space of a year. And Fernandez didn’t play that much in the juniors. Tauson won three of the four, all on hard courts; Fernandez won their first meeting, on clay.

First time in the pros – and at a Slam

“Well, it’s four years. It’s difficult to remember. She reached the top 50 at the same time more or less as I did, but then she had injuries and had to stop for a while. So she’s a very good player. She works as hard as all the players here, and it’s going to be a very good second-round match,” Fernandez said.

That day – a hot one, as you can see from the above photo gallery – was also likely the biggest public speech Fernandez had yet given in her fledgling career. She’s given a few very good ones since then.

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