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Monday Digest: Fernandez continues to shine in Indian Wells

Oct 11, 2021
written by: Tennis Canada
written by: Tennis Canada

When Leylah Fernandez got all the attention in New York, it was a surprise. But this week in Indian Wells, the young Canadian was the focus before the tournament event began.

No matter the circumstances, the 19-year-old from Montreal continues to show that she was born for the spotlight. As she continues her march towards the top of the WTA Tour, here’s what you need to know this week:

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Prime-time Leylah brings the show to California

The BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells began this week and all eyes were on Leylah Fernandez, who found herself burdened with expectations for the first time following her run to the US Open final last month.

If she was feeling additional pressure, the teen did not show it as she won her first two matches in not just singles, but doubles as well.

The Montrealer posted two impressive singles wins in late-night matches, crushing Alize Cornet in her opening match before mounting a comeback to beat Roland Garros runner-up Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to reach the last sixteen.

In doubles, she and partner Coco Gauff are through to the quarter-finals having only lost seven games in four sets.

Fernandez is one of three Canadians remaining in the tournament. On Monday, Denis Shapovalov and Bianca Andreescu will both look to join her in the third round of singles. Shapovalov, like Fernandez, is also still alive in doubles.

The draw in Indian Wells was not kind to the Canadians, who had to battle each other twice in the early rounds, with Shapovalov emerging victorious both times. He beat Félix Auger-Aliassime in doubles before taking out Vasek Pospisil in singles when the veteran was forced to retire with an injury.

Auger-Aliassime was also beaten in his opening singles match in straight sets by Albert Ramos-Vinolas. Sharon Fichman and Gabriela Dabrowski both lost in the second round of women’s doubles.

While the men’s draw has been very straightforward, with only a few minor upsets, the women’s draw has seen a few surprises, none bigger than US Open champion Emma Raducanu falling in her first match since the US Open final. The Brit won that title without dropping a set in ten matches but was beaten in straight sets in her opening match in Indian Wells.

Two of the top ten seeds on the women’s side, No. 5 Garbine Muguruza and No. 6 Maria Sakkari, both lost their opening matches. Another big upset saw former world No. 1 Simona Halep beaten in the third round by Aliaksandra Sasnovich, who had beaten Raducanu in round two.

MUST WATCH: Canada looks to retain title

Play continues in Indian Wells this week with the trophies being handed out next weekend.

Bianca Andreescu will look to keep her perfect record in the California desert alive as she seeks to defend the title she won 31 months ago. She is, after her second-round win, a perfect 8-0 at the event in her career. She plays Anett Kontaveit on Monday.

Fernandez will also look to keep her good form going and has a decent chance to reach the quarter-finals when she takes on Shelby Rogers in round four. She could meet second seed Iga Swiatek in the last eight.

Shapovalov is the lone Canadian left on the men’s side. He has a tricky match on Monday against 18th seed Aslan Karatsev and could meet No. 8 seed Hubert Hurkacz in the fourth round. He is also through to the second round of doubles alongside Rohan Bopanna.

Seven of the top eight seeds on the men’s side are still in the tournament, including US Open champion and top seed Daniil Medvedev. There will be a first-time champion as no former winners are competing this year.

The women’s draw is a little more open, with only five of the top eight still alive, including the top four of Karolina Pliskova, Swiatek, Barbora Krejcikova and Elina Svitolina.

UNDER THE RADAR: Marino in action on ITF Tour

Last week, three Canadians, Carson Branstine, Stacey Fung and Liam Draxl, all made the semi-finals of ITF events in doubles. All of them are competing again this week in various tournaments around the globe.

After failing to qualify for the main draw of Indian Wells, Rebecca Marino will be competing this week at the ITF event in Rancho Santa Fe.

One interesting ITF event to keep an eye on this week is taking place in Norman, Oklahoma, where some of Canada’s best juniors will be competing.

You can follow the Canadians in action every week here.