Leylah Fernandez and Coco Gauff Advance at the French Open

PARIS – It’s a new season and a different surface, but Leylah Fernandez, still firm and still a teenager, has returned to the depths of the end of another Grand Slam tournament.

He needed his skill and cheerful energy on this chilly Sunday afternoon at Roland Garros.

Amanda Anisimova, a 27-year-old 27-year-old American, is one of the biggest female tennis players, capable of creating a tremendous pace with a seemingly random racket.

He has a new model this season, which has helped him control his easy power. The 17th-ranked Fernandez spent nearly two hours punching in the corners and looking for a return, but in the end, the opposing puncher beat Fernandez 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 with speed, consistency, and yes. positivity made a small difference as it advanced to the first quarter-finals of the French Open.

“It’s very offensive,” Fernandez said. “I’ve tried to be as aggressive as he is and take my chances, and the balls have come in today.”

That is no coincidence at this stage. Fernandez, a 19-year-old Canadian, looks like a high-profile player and was perhaps part of the biggest surprise in tennis history when he and Emma Raducanu, another unclassified teenager, made it to the U.S. Open final last year with Raducanu. qualified, winning straight sets.

The rest of the women’s area has certainly been taken into account.

“I’m thinking, especially if the U.S. Open has taught us anything, that anyone can win any day,” said Coco Gauff, an 18-year-old 18-year-old American at Roland Garros.

Gauff played one of the best games on Sunday, No. Elise Mertens 31 qualified 6-4, 6-0 to return to the quarterfinals of the French Open, where she lost last year in a flawed match against champion Barbora Krejcikova due to one of the biggest disappointments of her short career in Gauff. how to manage the most significant points.

“I think it was the biggest lesson I learned last year in my quarterfinals,” Gauff said. “I had a couple of set points, and I think I was terrified when some of those points didn’t get out of my way. I’m not bored today. “

Instead, he gathered strength and showed greater patience in the clay, often before taking part in long rallies with Mertens in search of winners (or kicking the back of the net pole).

He seems to be giving dividends to himself and his new coach, Diego Moyano, and Gauff will face one of Moyano’s former students, Sloane Stephens, in a duel between generations of Americans.

Stephens, 29, is unqualified this year, but he has long since advanced on clay and in 2018 was a finalist for the French Open. On Sunday, Jil Teichmann won 6-2, 6-0. Stephens beat Gauff 6-4, 6-2 in the second round of last year’s U.S. Open, the first time he played in the tour. But that was hardly the first meeting. Both are from South Florida, and she attended the 10th birthday party of Stephens Gauff and trained with Gauff for the first time when Gauff was 12 years old and planned to face Stephens on bigger stages.

“I’ve had a very competitive mindset since I was a little girl,” Gauff said. “Yeah, I looked at it and all that, but I knew I was going to play against it.”

For those who followed the stories of Cinderella long ago, Fernandez and Raducanu will be forever linked, but although they were both raised here in Paris, they have not walked parallel paths from New York.

Neither one nor the other has come close to taking the usual tour in amazement. This is reserved for a slightly older player: no. 1 Iga Swiat, who has won 31 games in a row at the age of 20 and remains a favorite at Roland Garros, where he was a surprise teenage champion in 2020.

But even though Raducanu has signed some major protection deals and confused coaches, he has yet to make it past the quarterfinals of a regular tour of the U.S. Open. Fernandez has often lost in the beginning, but defended his individual title in Monterrey (Mexico) in March and is now doing his best with a good chance to go further in Paris, considering that he will face the unclassified Italian Martina Trevisan. Left quarterfinals at Roland Garros.

Fernandez said he put too much pressure on himself to succeed after the U.S. Open final.

“I wanted to be more offensive, more aggressive and improve my game as soon as possible,” he said. “I think I’ve just understood that there’s a process, and it’s still a long year, a very long year, and I need to calm down, calm down. And just accept that things are going to be tough, that things are going to go awry in a game, in a workout. And I just realized that I could use more tools in my toolbox and just find solutions. ”

That last sentence seems to be exploring Rafael Nadal’s phrase book, and there’s a touch of Nadal on Fernandez’s court. He, too, is a quick leftist with an unorthodox technique. Nadal has his bowling alley finish on the front; Fernandez has extreme grips and often hits his two-handed back with his hands apart.

There are also intangibles: the momentary struggle; a firm walk between points and rooted rituals. Anisimova may want to write some notes in light of her persistent tendency to be negative. He often smiled at his mistakes on Sunday, mocking his shots and throwing his racket through the red clay, frustrated at the end of the final set at the sound of a few shakes scattered from the stands that were never more than half full on Chatrier’s main court. .

Fernandez seemed a more composed and focused presence. Even though his game was a bright flame, his commitment was not.

“Every time I go out on the court I still have something to prove,” he said. “It simply came to our notice then. I’m still young. I still have a lot to show the public, so they can enjoy the tennis game. ”

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