PARIS | Leylah Fernandez’s career at Roland-Garros has been talked about for a few days now, so much so that some media are beginning to christen the young Quebec “Clay-lah”.
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This contraction of the English translation of “clay” and her first name “Leylah” went perfectly for her on Sunday, when she qualified for the quarterfinals in Paris for the first time in her young career.
Combat on this surface that often pushes players to the limit, the young Lavallois, 19, fought another fight in this victory by 6-3, 4-6 and 6-3 at the expense of the American Amanda Anisimova, 27th favorite. .
“It was a very difficult match, he acknowledged a slightly tired Leylah at a press conference, after this confrontation of almost 2 hours. But it was an amazing game for both of us. »
As he had done two days earlier against the Swiss Belinda Bencic (14), Fernández began the confrontation with aggression and speed, leading with two breaks.
The beautiful machine, however, has been slowly breaking down, mainly due to the generosity in the service of Quebec. He still managed to pocket the set on his second chance.
Anisimova regains strength
This strong end of the set foreshadowed that the 20-year-old American, a semifinalist in Paris three years ago, did not finish this match.
And in fact, Anisimova started walking Leylah from right to left. He scored no less than 18 winning games in that set, leaving Fernandez unanswered.
At least momentarily. Because as in the third round, the young racket came back strong in the final round. He took a break in the fifth game and never looked back.
“We played at a very high level, we were the 17th favorite, and I’m glad I was able to go through some difficult times in this meeting to have an extra chance to play for Philippe-Chatrier. [où était disputé le match dimanche midi, heure de France.] »
For her first appearance in the quarterfinals at Roland-Garros among the professionals, the champion of the 2019 junior edition will cross her swords on Tuesday with a left-hander like her, the Italian Martina Trevisan.
Leylah has never faced the 59th in the world, who at the age of 28 occupies the best rank of her career. Trevisan is one of the many surprises of this women’s table, which has only one player in the top 10: the number 1, the Polish Iga Swiatek.
Fernández is also the third best ranked player still in contention. Between Swiatek and her is American Jessica Pegula, 11th in the series.
The two girls are at the top of the picture and the quebec is at the bottom. But despite this hecatomb among the favorites and despite his good run on Parisian ocher, “Clay-Lah” refuses to see an opening until the final.
“All the players who are in this phase of the tournament are excellent,” he said. I work hard, but they also have that winning mindset. »
Glad to have played against Thierry Henry
PARIS | The Philippe-Chatrier stands had great visitors on Sunday for the round of 16 match between Quebec’s Leylah Fernandez and American Amanda Anisimova at Roland-Garros. Thierry Henry appeared on the giant screen in the middle of the match.
The former French international – and former coach of CF Montreal – was also applauded, standing, after the victory of Lavalloise.
A big fan of football, Leylah was especially delighted to see this big name in “football” savoring her performance. He also stressed this during the field interview with the 2013 Wimbledon champion, the French Marion Bartoli.
“I’m very happy to have played against Thierry Henry!” He smiled at the crowd.
“When I saw that I was there and that I was enjoying the match, I was very happy, because it is one of my goals, for people to appreciate my tennis,” he said later at a press conference.
“And to see him give a standing ovation after the game was great,” added the 17th seed.
Fernández did not watch the Champions League final, which took place on Saturday evening in Paris at the Stade de France between Liverpool and Real Madrid.
And he was not happy: he skipped the meeting because he had to “go to bed early.”
So he learned on Sunday morning that Real Madrid, one of his favorite clubs, had won 1-0.
Christmas was there
Unlike Quebec, the Spaniard Rafael Nadal was there to crown Real, his team. Images of the fifth favorite found out by fans as he tried to enter the stadium circulated online on Sunday.
Because the Champions League final and Roland-Garros are usually played at the same time, and rarely in the same country, “Rafa” had never had a chance to see this final encounter in person.
Although it was presented at 9 pm, and the launch was delayed by 35 minutes to allow the sympathetic garden to settle (which by the way has caused excesses and a hundred arrests), Nadal also said that he went to bed quite early.
At least enough to sign a five-day victory over Felix Auger-Aliassime in the early afternoon.
“Given the late hour, I did not stay in the celebrations,” lamented the winner of 13 Roland-Garros titles.