Unshakeable Fernandez weathers Anisimova storm

 - Chris Oddo

Tenacious Canadian cracked 2019 semi-finalist's code to reach maiden Roland-Garros quarter-final

Leylah Fernandez, huitièmes de finale, Roland-Garros 2022© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Faced with the prospect of spending a nippy Paris afternoon dealing with Amanda Anisimova's daunting power, Canada's Leylah Fernandez didn't blink - nor did she miss when given the opportunity to strike.

The Canadian planted herself on her baseline and successfully weathered a barrage of world-class power from the 2019 semi-finalist on Court Philippe-Chatrier on Sunday, producing a 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 victory to book her spot in the quarter-finals at Roland-Garros for the first time.

Fernandez, who saved four match points in her win over Anisimova two months ago at Indian Wells in their only previous meeting, was busy winning the Roland-Garros junior title in 2019.

That was the year that Anisimova reached the semi-finals at the age of 17 to become the youngest woman to reach the last four in Paris since 2006.

This year the Canadian is continuing her fast progress on the senior circuit - the 2021 US Open runner-up has now reached the quarter-finals in two of her last three Grand Slam appearances.

Fernandez moves on to face Italy's Martina Trevisan next in Paris.

Leylah Fernandez, Roland-Garros 2022, Simple Dames, 1/8 de FinaleCorinne Dubreuil / FFT

Story of the Match

If there is a weak spot in an opponent's game to be found, expect that the tenacious Fernandez will be there to exploit it.

One of three teenagers to reach the fourth-round on the women's side (along with Coco Gauff and Zheng Qinwen), Fernandez did just that in the opening set, winning all seven of her second-serve return points as she broke Anisimova three times on four opportunities.

The No.17-seed was quick off the mark, pressuring the American into mistakes and closing points at net as she staked herself to a 4-0 lead, but Anisimova soon got the wake-up call and responded with two breaks to edge closer by the end of the opening set.

Anisimova's efforts were in vain, however, as Fernandez served out the stanza on her second opportunity, forcing an error to close the set in 36 minutes.

Anisimova clicked into a higher gear as the second set began, and sent a bevy of fizzing groundstrokes for winners as she built a 4-1 lead.

The Floridian produced 18 winners in the set, and fought off a late rally from the fleet-footed Canadian, converting her second set point in the tenth game to force a decider.

The tug-of-war continued in the third; Anisimova generated powerful strikes off both wings, while the cagey Fernandez searched and found ways to exploit the American's movement.

Fernandez shifted the momentum early in the set, saving a trio of break points from 0-40 in the second game, and proceeded to goad Anisimova into longer rallies from that moment on.

The strategy paid dividends - a break for 3-2 put Fernandez in the driver's seat and she sped to the finish line.

A first match point went begging with Anisimova serving at 3-5 in the final set, but the world No.18 made her next opportunity count, clinching the victory in one hour and 54 minutes when a last-ditch Anisimova forehand sank into the net.

Amanda Anisimova, Roland-Garros 2022, Simple Dames, 1/8 de FinaleCorinne Dubreuil / FFT

Key stats

Fernandez made the most of her first serve on Sunday, hitting the mark 79 percent of the time with her first offering.

She also defended her second serve well when she needed to, winning 10 of 20 second serve points.

Though Anisimova was able to break through for four breaks of serve, Fernandez's ability to hit spots with her first serve kept the American from peppering her with return winners.

An ability to remain unperturbed in the biggest moments also helped the Canadian - she saved eight of 12 break points, including all three she faced in the final set.

Fernandez hit eight return winners for the match; Anisimova hit seven.

The Canadian's versatility and ability to dominate the forecourt also helped her cause. Fernandez won 19 of 26 points at net, which made up for the fact that she only claimed 38 of 88 baseline points in the match.

What the players said

Leylah Fernandez: "Of course, today it was a match that was very complicated. Amanda is a very good player, and I'm very happy to be able to beat her. Also I'm very happy to play in front of Thierry Henry, and thank you for coming."

"Every year before winning juniors I dreamed of playing on Court Philippe-Chatrier in front of you, I am very happy to be here and hope to play on this court again. Honestly, without you, without the public, I think that I wouldn't have been able to win today."