Leylah Fernandez climbed the ladder of tennis stardom very quickly. She seemingly came out of nowhere and reached the final of the US Open. Buoyed by the strong showing in the US Open, Leylah Fernandez continued being impressive in 2022 as well and has climbed to a career high WTA ranking of 14 as of July 2022. In this post, we will take a more detailed look into her bright young career. Let’s get started.
Leylah Fernandez: All You Need To Know
Who is Leylah Fernandez?
Leylah Fernandez, whose father is Ecuadorian and whose mother is Filipino Canadian, has generated admiration among spectators and teammates at the US Open. Center court at Arthur Ashe Stadium saw 23,000 fans stand up and cheer this young tennis player for several minutes after her loss.
2021’s US Open has left many emotions, from the sudden departure of Carlos Alcaraz to the arrival of this Canadian whirlwind, Leylah Fernandez. The left-hander did not go with great expectations, but little by little she was eliminating her far more storied opponents like Naomi Osaka and Angelique Kerber.
Leylah Fernandez’s celebration of raising both hands or with her fist raised has become her hallmark. Of course, her imperious form throughout the tournament ensured that there were a lot of occasions when she could celebrate. She is always encouraged by her father, an Ecuadorian emigrant who left Guayaquil at the age of three to settle with her family in Canada, and who trains her in Florida together with his technical team.
While her father was not present during the US Open, he did keep in touch with his daughter to give her encouragement and advice throughout the championship. They served until the end, when she was defeated by Britain’s Emma Raducanu. Some prestigious bookmakers already offered in their statistics a real possibility that she would win, but finally the British had more luck and grit in the match.
How did Leylah Fernandez start winning her tennis matches?
Although at first Fernandez was not very sure whether to dedicate herself to tennis, soccer or athletics (sports that she also practices), it was the impulse of her father who ended up encouraging her. Jorge Fernandez had as an example the father of Selena and Venus Williams, Richard, who became the mentor of his daughters, who have won more than 30 Grand Slams.
Who is Leylah Fernandez’s biggest inspiration?
The tennis player Justine Henin was Leylah’s role model: the Belgian became number one in the world for 117 weeks in a row. She also won a gold medal in the women’s singles at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
The magical year
2019 was the magical year for Leylah Fernandez, where she won her first Junior Grand Slam. She was the first Canadian woman to achieve it since 2012. The following year, in 2020, she played her first WTA final in Mexico, specifically in Acapulco, and although she ended up losing, she fought real hard and earned everyone’s respect. The Fed Cup was another big moment, as she defeated world number 5 Belinda Bencic.
The titles and trophies gradually followed one another, although there are still many trophies to win, especially European ones, such as the Mutua Madrid Open. Her grit and temperament helped her improve, to be able to play finals with the greatest tennis players today. In 2021 she ruthlessly defeated Kuzmova, Kucova, Sorribes, Vandeweghe and Golubic and won the Monterrey championship.
This future promise of world tennis aims high, he has the desire, youth and courage to face any rival. If Leylah fulfills what everyone expects of her and is able to become the queen of the court, we will see it in the coming years.
Her name had been buzzing in the ears of many tennis fans since she began to stand out in her junior career, in which she reached the final at the Australian Open and was crowned at Roland Garros 2019. All these weeks before making her professional debut with a title at the ITF 25K in Gatineau.
But it was really after her time in Mexico in 2020 and 2021, when the young woman took flight in the world of professional tennis , as she reached her first WTA final at the Mexican Tennis Open and became champion of the Monterrey Open a year later.
Leylah Fernandez was born and has lived in Toronto for most of her life, but she has Latin blood running through her veins. Her father and her coach, Jorge Fernandez, was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador and considered it vitally important to instill in them the culture and language of her native country.
Which sport did Leylah Fernandez start with?
The recently turned 19-year-old began practicing soccer in Canada, trying to imitate her father, who practiced this sport professionally during his youth.
Speaking on this, Leylah Fernandez said: “I wanted to play soccer because my dad was a coach and a player. She was always on the court with him, but he didn’t want his daughter to be in such a difficult sport for women. I spent a few months on a soccer team and one day my dad came home from work and said, ‘I’m sorry, but no more.’ He went to a sports store and instead, he bought us some tennis rackets that were pink with flowers”.
That same afternoon, Leylah and her younger sister, Bianca Jolie, began to rally with each other on the street outside their home. They were just six and five years old when thanks to those rackets they discovered her passion.
“We started to play with the ball in the fairway. Sometimes cars came and we had to stop playing. I fell in love with the sport from that moment,” she recalled.
Soccer disappeared from Leylah’s head, and given the natural talent she displayed in tennis, she concentrated all her efforts on improving day by day.
Jorge, seeing the level his daughters reached in a short period of time, made the decision to train them personally and guide them to high performance.
Soccer was also in the past for Jorge because since then and to this day, he dedicates all his days to improving as a tennis coach and fulfilling the level that his daughters have shown.
“It has been very difficult because I see him as a father. He knows how to separate the job of coach and dad, but I’m just learning the difference. Today I know that when he speaks loudly to me, he is a coach and he will always tell me the truth. But at the end of the day, he is a dad who gives me a lot of love, ” Leylah Fernandez mentioned.
How is Leylah Fernandez’s relationship with Ecuador?
The tennis player Leylah Fernandez gained the attention of the world after her outstanding participation in the US Open, a tournament in which she eliminated the favorite Naomi Osaka and where she is already in the semifinals. The athlete has Ecuadorian roots, because of her father, Jose.
She feels a great love for Ecuador, on her Twitter account she shows three flags: Canada, where she was born, the Philippines, from her mother, and the Ecuadorian tricolor, from her father’s side.
Fernandez visits the country often, to accompany her paternal grandparents, who live in Salinas, Santa Elena. She likes the beaches and the national cuisine.
“She is fascinated by Salinas, she likes Ecuador and its food, mainly the guatita. We have taught her our gastronomy and everything that is Latin. It will come very soon,” said Oscar and Ines Fernandez, the tennis player’s grandparents, in an interview with journalist Kenny Castro, from the KCTenis portal.
On September 6th 2021, she turned 19, with an outstanding record in the US Open. The athlete stood out in the youth circuit where she won the Roland Garros and she dreams of repeating her success at the pro level as well.
Oscar, her grandfather, says that he gets nervous every time she plays. It is his wife who watches the matches live, while he opens sports pages, on his laptop, to keep an eye on the results in real time, but he cannot sit down to watch the matches.
“I’m happy for her, she deserves to continue so everything will come with time and perseverance. I always wish her the best of luck,” said Ines, her grandmother, regarding the future of the tennis player. On September 9th, 2021, Fernandez played the semifinal of the US Open, against Aryna Sabalenka, which she ended up winning, booking a match with another teen sensation Emma Raducanu.
What is Leylah Fernandez’s playing style?
Leylah Fernandez has become the whirlwind of the US Open 2021. The Canadian tennis player, with multicultural roots and tennis that is out of the norm, is making everyone talk about her. She beat former world number one Naomi Osaka and went on to defeat another formidable opponent in Angelique Kerber. The Canadian again escaped a very adverse situation in the second set tie-break and finished off the job in the third, a way of winning that speaks volumes about her winning mentality and her never-give-up attitude. She is a fighter through and through. Even if Leylah Fernandez can’t beat you with a flurry of groundstrokes and monstrous serves, she can definitely outlast you with her grit and determination. At a press conference, Leylah explained what is activated in her head to be able to overcome these situations, especially talking about a kind of ‘mental game’ that helps her believe in herself until the end.
“It was an amazing match. I played very well in the first set, but unfortunately, I made some mistakes. She is a great player and a great champion, she realized that and took advantage of it. I was able to readjust my concentration and fight back for the second. In the third, I simply enjoyed every minute of the match. The stands were incredible, thanks to them I was able to win today”, Fernandez said.
Leylah Fernandez also gave a great account of how she was able to fight back from being 2-4 down in the second set. She said: “Honestly, I managed to regain my confidence around 1-3 in the second set. That service game helped me a lot to rebuild some confidence. I started to trust my tennis, to think that everything was going to be fine. In the 3 -4 I don’t know if it was a feeling or a mental state, but I felt that this was going to be the moment in which I would break his serve, I got it and I can only say that I was glad to be able to enjoy myself on the court, I trusted 100% in my tennis. Maybe age would help me later in the third set, I don’t know. In the third set, I was really tired, but despite that, I told myself that if I was tired, she must be exhausted. I was trying to put the ball on the court to the maximum, trusting my tennis and that everything was going to turn out well”.
When asked about the differences between beating Kerber and beating Osaka, Leylah Fernandez said: “My emotions today are exactly the same as two days ago (laughs). I’m super happy. I’m going to enjoy tonight as much as I can and once I go to sleep in bed, I’ll try to forget about everything so I can prepare myself for the future.”
Leylah Fernandez really had a fun time playing in the US Open. Speaking about her experience, Leylah Fernandez said: “The truth is that I don’t know. I have worked very hard every day since I started playing tennis, since the day I set my goal to become a professional. I was confident that one day my tennis would flourish, that I would appear in the big scenarios, playing against the best players in the world and getting the victory. That’s why I’m not surprised by everything that’s happening right now. I’m just glad that it happens now and not later, but now it’s time to enjoy and think only day by day “.
What does Leylah Fernandez think about Carlos Alcazar?
Carlos Alcazar has been making waves in the men’s tennis scene with his incredible play at such a young age. Similar to Leylah Fernandez. This is what she had to say about him: “Unfortunately we have not been able to train together, although we definitely have to: I remember watching him (Alcazar) play a junior tournament and I was seeing a right-handed Rafael Nadal, he was literally a right-handed Rafa Nadal. Seeing the teenagers doing great at this US Open and also in other tournaments is an eye-opening experience for the world of tennis: there is not only a group of players but also a new generational wave that wants to get to the top and wants to make their mark on the tour”.