Leylah Fernandez writes a familiar Canadian tale

Leylah Fernandez is not a carbon copy of Bianca Andreescu in terms of playing style. Fernandez is more defense-oriented than Bibi, using speed more than power to change the equation of a match. It is true that both players are very resourceful, but the resources they have and how they deploy them are different.

The obvious point of commonality between these two young Canadian tennis stars is that they developed, very early in their careers, tremendous coping skills on court. Both rose to stardom and reached a U.S. Open final well ahead of schedule by winning tough 3-set matches against seasoned veteran opponents with ample credentials. Tennis Twitter gave rise to the #Andr33scu hashtag, and now #F3rnandez is a real thing as well.

Osaka, Kerber, Svitolina, Sabalenka, Bencic, Anisimova — Fernandez has beaten them all in 3-setters at major tournaments. Like Carlos Alcaraz, she is only 19, wise beyond her years. She has followed the Andreescu path and, by making a major quarterfinal in Paris, has shown a better trajectory than Emma Raducanu since that remarkable all-teen U.S. Open final last September.

Raducanu is the publicity magnet, being in England and therefore soaking up attention from a British press eager to promote a post-Andy Murray superstar. Yet, Fernandez — though second to Raducanu in New York — shows signs of exhibiting more staying power on tour.

The thing which will stand in her way, much as it has with Andreescu: too many 3-setters.

We have seen the importance of efficiency with the Big 3 in men’s tennis. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic all built an empire based on making quick work of opponents in the early rounds of majors so that they are fresh for the business end of the tournament. True, women’s tennis is only best of three, but if Iga Swiatek is roaring through tournaments in straight sets, beating her in a semifinal or final will require having enough fuel.

Specifically in relationship to this Roland Garros tournament, Fernandez suffered a foot injury which hampered her in her 3-set loss to Martina Trevisan. The accumulation of long matches, the tread on the tires, played a real role in limiting Fernandez’s effectiveness. Much like Jannik Sinner on the ATP side, Fernandez and Andreescu both have to find new levels of efficiency to increase their margins.

If they can do that, their already-bright futures will receive even more sunshine.

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