Leylah Fernandez posts season-opening victory at Australian tennis event

January 3, 2022
Leylah Fernandez posts season-opening victory at Australian tennis event
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Canadian tennis star Leylah Fernandez kicked off her 2022 season with a win on Monday, defeating Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-3, 6-4 in first-round action at the Adelaide International in Australia.

Fernandez converted 86 per cent of her first-serve points and had four aces in the victory. The 19-year old from Laval, Que., did not face break point, and broke Alexandrova twice on eight chances.

Fernandez, the world No. 24, will next face the winner of a match between fifth seed Iga Swiatek of Poland and Australia’s Daria Saville at the WTA 500 event as she prepares for the Australian Open. The first Grand Slam tournament of the year starts Jan. 17 in Melbourne.

The rising Canadian star is coming off a breakout 2021 season that saw her win her first WTA title in Monterrey, Mexico, and advance to the final of the U.S. Open en route to winning the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award as Canadian Press female athlete of the year.

WATCH | Fernandez, father discuss breakout 2021 season:

Leylah Fernandez, father join CBC Sports to discuss her breakout year

Canadian tennis star Leylah Fernandez along with her father and coach Jorge Fernandez join CBC Sports’ Vivek Jacob to look back on the year that was, discuss their relationship on and off the court and look ahead to the 2022 tennis season. 14:18

Elsewhere, Spain, Poland and Argentina remained perfect at the ATP Cup in Sydney with 3-0 wins in their matches Monday, their second consecutive victories in the team event.

Robert Bautista Agut clinched the match for Spain by beating Casper Ruud of Norway 6-4, 7-6 (4) after Pablo Carreno Busta defeated Viktor Durasovic 6-3, 6-3.

Bautista Agut downs Ruud in Australia

Bautista Agut improved to 9-2 in singles at the team event.

“Casper is playing unbelievable tennis, [he did] an unbelievable performance last year, and today I played very good,” Bautista Agut said in his on-court interview. “I returned very well, I made very few unforced errors and I played aggressively.”

Kamil Majchrzak gave Poland the early lead over Georgia with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Aleksandre Bakshi before Hubert Hurkacz clinched it with a 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-1 win over Aleksandre Metreveli.

“He [Metreveli] played well in the first set and things were not going my way. But I got better with each set and am happy to get the win,” Hurkacz said.

Argentina defeated Greece as Federtico Delbonis beat Michail Pervolorakis 7-6 (5), 6-1 and Diego Schwartzman came from behind for a 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-3 victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The three sides then completed their victories by winning their doubles matches.

Poland and Argentina will play for a pot in the semifinals when they meet in their final group game on Wednesday.

Chile stays in semifinal mix

Majchrzak needed only 53 minutes to beat Bakshi.

“I was trying to move [Bakshi] around and I think that was the key to the match,” said Majchrzak, who is coached by former world seventh-ranked Joakim Nystrom.

“He brings me a lot of confidence and a lot of calm in my tennis so I can feel that I am improving,” Majchrzak said of Nystrom on the ATP Tour’s website. “We are working on [developing an all-court game] but in a way that doesn’t interrupt my baseline game. We will take it from the practice to the matches but it takes time.”

Chile remained in contention for a semifinal place with a 2-1 victory over Serbia.

Filip Krajinov put Serbia in front by beating Alejandro Tabilo 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (5) only for Chile to pull even when Dusan Lajovic retired in the third set of his match with Cristian Garin.

That set up the deciding doubles match where Tabilo and Tomas Barrios Vera beat Nikola Cacic and Matej Sabanov 6-4, 3-6, 10-7.

“It was a great match with Krajinovic and I just needed to find the motivation again, once Cristian won his match,” Tabilo said after his doubles win.

The result left both teams with 1-1 records heading to Wednesday’s final group matches, where Chile takes on Norway and Serbia faces Spain.

The four group winners in the 16-team tournament advance to the semifinals on Friday and Saturday, with the winners meeting in the final on Sunday.

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