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PARIS — Canada’s Leylah Annie Fernandez rallied for a 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory over No. 31 seed Magda Linette of Poland in her main-draw debut at the French Open on Monday.
The 18-year-old from Laval, Que., won the girls’ tournament at the clay-court Grand Slam last year before rising to the women’s ranks.
“I’m actually pretty pleased with myself with the win today,” said Fernandez.
“I’ve been having some success in the past few years here in Paris and I was just trying to use that energy and that positive vibe that I feel over here and push through in the second and the third set.”
It marks the second straight Grand Slam in which Fernandez has won her opening-round match. The world No. 100 lost to top American Sofia Kenin in the second round of the U.S. Open.
The Canadian teenager says she stayed confident despite dropping the first set so easily.
“I’ve always believed that I can win the match. Even though I was losing 1-4, 1-5 in the first set, I always thought like I can come back and win the first set,” said Fernandez. “But Magda, she played a great first set, a great match, and I guess when I came back in the second set right from the start I knew I can still turn it around and with that mindset that I had it helped a lot.”
Fernandez will face world No. 47 Polona Hercog of Slovenia in the second round of the French Open.
Both of Canada’s entrants in the women’s singles draw have reached the second round.
Eugenie Bouchard of Westmount, Que., who received a wild-card into the event, beat Anna Kalinskaya of Russia on Sunday and will face Australia’s Daria Gavrilova in the second round.
Meanwhile, Montreal’s Felix Auger-Aliassime and Toronto’s
PARIS — Prepping in the relative warmth of a gym before heading out with leggings and long sleeves to make her French Open debut against the tournament’s No. 9 seed, Coco Gauff got a pep talk from Dad.
“His goal was to become an NBA player, and he didn’t make it. He told me: `You’re living your dream. Not everybody gets to do that. Just have fun on the court.’ That really changed my perspective,” the 16-year-old Gauff recounted. “I was really nervous going into the match. That just calmed me down. I realized it’s just a tennis match. I’m doing some things that people wish they could do.”
On a rather unusual start to things at Roland Garros — postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, Day 1 arrived in September instead of May, with only 1,000 spectators allowed instead of more than 30,000 as COVID-19 cases rise in France — Gauff offered the latest proof that she can do most of what she wishes to on a tennis court.
Using forehand slices to throw off her older, more experienced opponent, and unbothered by her own 12 double-faults, Gauff stayed steady at the most crucial moments to beat Johanna Konta 6-3, 6-3 and reach the second round. This was already Gauff’s fourth victory over an opponent ranked in the Top 20.
Such a far cry from last year’s French Open: Gauff failed to make it out of qualifying, while Konta was making her way to her third Grand Slam semifinal.
Soon after, Gauff had her breakthrough at Wimbledon, becoming, at 15, the youngest qualifier ever there on the way to the fourth round. She also made it to the fourth round at this year’s Australian Open, beating 2019 champion Naomi Osaka en route.
Only recently was there a bit of