PARIS — Canada’s Leylah Fernandez and Felix Auger-Aliassime have advanced to the fourth round of the French Open.
Fernandez, a 19-year-old Montreal native, outlasted Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 on the main court at Roland Garros on Friday.
It’s the first time Fernandez, the runner-up at the 2021 U.S. Open, has advanced past the third round in Paris.
The 17th-seeded Fernandez broke Bencic in the 11th game of the deciding set and served out the match. She had saved two set points in the opener.
“It was an incredible fight and I think today it was just trusting my game when it mattered most,” Fernandez said. “I am glad that I was able to trust it enough for me to keep going and keep executing the game plan.”
Fernandez next faces 20-year-old American Amanda Anisimova, who reached the Roland Garros semifinals in 2019.
Anisimova, the No. 27 seed, advanced when Karolina Muchova stopped playing after hurting her right ankle. Anisimova was leading 6-7 (7), 6-2, 3-0 when Muchova conceded.
Fernandez and Anisimova have played each other only once before on the WTA Tour at Indian Wells in March, when the American abruptly retired after losing a second-set tiebreak.
Fernandez said she always looks forward to testing herself against other young players on the tour.
“I think it’s great for the sport,” she said of the youthful matchup. “We can bring more young fans to tennis … to enjoy the matches and hopefully they can pick up a tennis racket.
“I think it’s great to see that all of us are improving every year. We keep playing against the best players in the world here and we can (hold) our own.”
The best result by a Canadian woman in the French Open singles draw came in 2014 when Eugenie Bouchard reached the semifinals.
In men’s singles, the 21-year-old Auger-Aliassime defeated Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic 7-6 (3), 7-6 (2), 7-5. Auger-Aliassime fired 16 aces in the three-hour match.
“I was expecting a tough match today and it was,” Auger-Aliassime said. “But at the end of the day, I was serving really well … (it) was a good showing today.”
The ninth-seeded Montreal native will next face No. 5 seed Rafael Nadal of Spain. Auger-Aliassime is coached by Nadal’s uncle and former coach, Toni Nadal.
“I think Toni will watch from a neutral place and enjoy the match,” Auger-Aliassime. “For my part, it’s another match and another opportunity to try to play a good match and win. But of course it’s very difficult.”
Nadal, a 13-time French Open champion, moved into the fourth round by beating Botic van de Zandschulp of the Netherlands 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.
“I am sure that even if (Toni) is working with another player, I think for him it is going to be difficult for him to want me to lose,” said Nadal, when asked about his uncle during a TV interview on Friday.
With files from The Associated Press.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2022.
The Canadian Press