Jul 17, 2024

Fernandez won her first WTA title at the Monterrey Open in 2021. Photo from Fernandez' Facebook account.

October 16, 2023 - Canadian Filipino tennis star Leylah Annie Fernandez did not disappoint as she rallied to win the Hong Kong Open on October 15 for her first tennis title in 19 months.

This is Fernandez’s third World Tennis Association (WTA)  title and the first since winning at Monterrey in March 2022. After the win, she will slide up the top 50 in the rankings from the pre-WTA event of 60.

In a statement, 21-year-old Fernandez related her uphill struggle the last few years.  “We had a very, very hard past couple of years,” Fernandez said. “My family, my parents, my coach, and my performance coach stayed by my side.”

Fernandez wins her third WTA title at the Hong Kong Open. Photo from Fernandez' Instagram account.Fernandez wins her third WTA title at the Hong Kong Open. Photo from Fernandez' Instagram account.

It was a shaky start for Fernandez as she battled her way against no. 85-ranked Katerina Siniakova who earned two breaks to claim the opening set. 

Fernandez responded by building a 4-0 lead in the second set before the Czech player called for an off-court medical timeout. 

"I knew it was a crucial game," Fernandez said. "Katerina was playing an incredible match, hitting winners from the backhand, forehand, left, right, and centre. It was a tough game for me, especially emotionally, to control myself…I just had to focus on the ball."

Tied at 4-4 in the final set, Fernandez eventually led at 5-4 and then remained calm and determined to serve out the win in a gruelling two hours and 49 minutes game.

In 2019, Fernandez became  the first Canadian to win the French Open junior singles title at the Roland-Garros clay courts in Paris. She won her first WTA title in 2021 and was the youngest player at the Monterrey Open. A year later, she led Team Canada at the  Billie Jean King Cup Finals.

About the Author
Rachel Ramos-Reid started writing for magazines and newspapers when she was still a junior at the University of the Philippines’ Communication degree program majoring in Journalism. She continued to write in a public relations/corporate communications capacity in various private and government offices until moving out of the country in 1997 to work as Programme Officer for the arts and culture branch of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO-SPAFA) in Bangkok, Thailand. At the end of her term, Rachel found herself immigrating to Canada in the year 2000 and again searching for new beginnings. Currently she is the Executive Assistant to a small rural college on Vancouver Island.

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