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Fernandez grinds out opening-round win at Australian Open

Leylah Annie Fernandez Leylah Annie Fernandez - The Canadian Press

MELBOURNE, Australia — It wasn't vintage Leylah Fernandez, but the 21-year-old from Laval, Que., found a way to grind out a victory on Saturday in her opening singles match at the 15-day Australian Open.

Fernandez, competing in the women's singles draw in Melbourne, needed a tiebreaker to win the first set 7-6 (5) in an hour against 17-year-old qualifier Sara Bejlek of Czechia, then won the second 6-2 in 31 minutes to advance.

Fernandez finished with two aces, two double faults, one tiebreak victory and 18 unforced errors.

Bejlek had no aces, one double fault and 12 unforced errors.

Fernandez was good on 71 per cent of her first serves and won 33 points on the first serve. She won eight service games and four return games.

“It wasn’t a perfect match, but I’m just glad that I was able to fight through some of the tough moments that I encountered in the first set and just kept fighting,” said Fernandez, who had a first-round loss at last year’s U.S. Open.

“I think it was a good first round, get a feel of the court, get a feel of the tournament, and I can just improve from there.”

Fernandez will next play American Alycia Parks, who defeated qualifier Daria Snigur of Ukraine 2-6, 6-2, 6-4.

Rebecca Marino of Vancouver will play fifth-seeded American Jessica Pegula in her opening match on Monday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 13, 2024.