Leylah Fernandez faces American foe in Sweet 16 of Indian Wells

Published October 12, 2021, 1:18 PM

by Kristel Satumbaga-Villar

Leylah Fernandez (AFP)

Leylah Fernandez guns for a quarterfinal berth at the Indian Wells when she clashes with unseeded American Shelby Rogers Tuesday (early Wednesday in Manila),

Fernandez, a 19-year-old Canadian of Filipino descent, is coming off a morale-boosting 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 third-round victory over Russian ninth seed and 2021 French Open finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

She earned an opening-round bye then swept French veteran Alize Cornet, 6-2, 6-3, before surviving Pavlyuchenkova.

This would be the second time that Fernandez and Rogers are meeting, with their last matchup happening in the Round-of-16 of the 2020 Lexington event. Rogers won that match, 6-2, 7-5.

But a lot has happened since their last duel particularly on Fernandez, who rose to fame after a surprise finals appearance at the 2021 US Open against eventual winner Emma Raducanu of Great Britain.

Fernandez, whose Filipino grandparents are Canadian immigrants, hopes to continue that impressive run.

Against Rogers, Fernandez boasts of a higher ranking at No. 28 compared to the American’s No. 44.

But the 28-year-old Rogers packs experience, with notable victories against top-ranked players that include Simona Halep at the 2017 Australian Open and Serena Williams at the 2020 Top Seed Open.

She finished in the Round-of-16 at the 2021 US Open after losing to Raducanu, but only after stunning world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty in the third round.

So far, Rogers has never dropped a set in her matches, winning over Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina, 7-6 (2), 6-2, in the opening round; Slovak Republic’s Kristina Kucova, 6-2, 6-2, in the second; and Romania’s Irina-Camela Begu, 6-0, 6-2, in the third.

Meanwhile, Fernandez also aims for a doubles title with American Coco Gauff when they collide with second seed Hsieh Su-wei of Chinese Taipei and Belgium’s Elise Mertens.

Fernandez and Gauff are fresh from a 6-3, 6-2 victory over fifth seed Nicole Melichar-Martinez of the United States and Netherlands’ Demi Schuurs, 6-3, 6-2, while Hsieh and Mertens bested American Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Polish Iga Swiatek, 1-6, 6-4, 10-8.