Australia: Leylah Fernandez shines … but loses

After losing in the second round at the Australian Open, Bianca Andreescu remembered that tennis can be thankless at times. “It’s one of those rare sports where you can score more points than your opponent and still lose the match,” said the Canadian.

On Thursday, Leylah Fernandez won the same number of rallies as France’s Caroline Garcia. In the stat column, next to both their names, it says “Won 81 points”.

However, it was the fourth seed, one of the strongest women in the circuit, who won this second round encounter 7-6 (5) and 7-5 in 1 hour 52 minutes.

The Quebecer may have played better tennis than the Frenchwoman, but the latter won the most important points. Especially thanks to an unstoppable serve at these key moments: Garcia saved six of his nine break points with aces.

“I don’t remember ever seeing it,” Leyla told reporters.

Six aces on break points

Just over an hour after shaking hands with his rival and leaving the centre, the world number 40 looked calm.

Not to mention proud of his performance, he was pleased to be the last Masters champion at the end of the year. At the age of 29, a player who has achieved the best results of his career for several months.

“My emotions are mixed,” said Leyla, still finding a way to smile a little. Although I played well, I was disappointed to lose. But there’s a lot to learn from this play as time goes on, and I find it exciting for the rest of the season.

In a coat in the middle of summer

Because if it wasn’t for the grace Garcia finds herself in every time her back hits the wall, the outcome of this match could have been very different.

Organizers have reserved Melbourne’s largest stadium, Rod Laver Arena, for this exciting poster between the last US Open semi-finalist and the finalist in 2021.

Animated for the previous meeting between Norway’s Casper Ruud, the second seed, and 39th-ranked American Jenson Brooksby (the latter won in four sets), the center gradually emptied as the two players set foot there.

A few “Go Karo!” and “Let’s Go Leila!”, the atmosphere was a chilly 18 degrees, forcing the audience to dress warmly in the Australian summer.

Garcia’s flight

But it was hot on the ground. Two years ago in New York, little Leila got into the habit of bringing down a giant woman. He’s not afraid of these big encounters on these big stages. And he was less erratic, leading the game at 2-2 at the first break.

In the next game, the 20-year-old Quebecer took a 30-0 lead on his serve. Frustrated, Garcia slammed his racket down. A gesture of frustration set her free as the Frenchwoman began to add winning shots, only to be broken in turn.

Fernandez then took a 4-0 lead in the tiebreaker. A seemingly insurmountable lead was quickly erased before her opponent won the set with one of her 11 aces in the game, thanks in particular to a double fault from Leila.

“After the point I felt like I was robbed, I imagined the fourth seed. I’m always late for this set. I could not comment on his service. All his service games were very fast and I was having trouble with mine.

Still learning

In the second set, Lavallois failed to take advantage of the three break chances offered to him by Garcia. Rather, it was the second who broke the first thanks to Leyla’s two errors and took a valuable 6-5 lead.

Despite another tight game on her serve, the Frenchwoman continued. Despite playing one of his best matches in recent months, Fernandez’s singles run in Melbourne has come to an end. She will continue in doubles on Thursday with American Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

“I still have things to learn. In this match, I learned that a small opening like I did in the tiebreaker is not enough,” Leyla lamented.

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