Leylah Fernandez determined to take all-round game to next level, but happy to have ‘underdog mindset’

Leylah Fernandez in action

Leylah Fernandez continued her upward curve as she broke new ground at Roland Garros on Sunday, defeating Amanda Anisimova to reach the quarter-final for the first time.

After a tight three-set win over 14th seed Belinda Bencic in a feisty third-round clash, Fernandez again had to go the distance as she beat the American 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in just under two hours.

Following her heroics at the US Open last year where she finished runner-up to Emma Raducanu, Fernandez has enjoyed a mixed year as she lost in the first round of the Australian Open and failed to really get an extended run on clay in the lead-up to the French Open. The highlight of her campaign to date was the successful defence of her Monterrey Open trophy in February.

But it is all about improving for the Canadian.

“I think I’m improving more and more and understanding my game, that’s the most important thing,” she said.

“That was our goal after the US Open, that we just want to improve my tennis game, my all-around game, and just keep getting those opportunities and see where my level is at and see where I can improve for the next match.”

She added: “I think I just understood that there is a process, and it’s still a long year, very long year, and I just need to calm myself down, calm my mind down, and just accept that things are going to be tough.

“Things are going to go sideways in a match, in a practice, and just understand that I’ve got more tools in my toolbox that I can use and just find solutions.”

The 19-year-old, who won the French Open girls’ title in 2019, will face world No 59 Martina Trevisan for a place in the semi-finals, but she is happy to continue her status as underdog.

“Every time I step out on the court I still have something to prove,” said Fernandez,

“I still have that mindset I’m the underdog. I’m still young, I still have a lot to show to the people, to the public so that they can just enjoy the tennis match.”