Elina Svitolina to face rookie Leylah Fernandez in third round of women’s tennis

Just as her top-seeded opponent Elina Svitolina had said earlier, Leylah Fernandez thought she had an opportunity to play her best tennis in a Grand Slam this year. “I felt like I played my…

Elina Svitolina to face rookie Leylah Fernandez in third round of women’s tennis

Just as her top-seeded opponent Elina Svitolina had said earlier, Leylah Fernandez thought she had an opportunity to play her best tennis in a Grand Slam this year.

“I felt like I played my best today, but she played really well too,” Fernandez said after beating Svitolina to reach the final four of the Women’s Tennis Association’s qualifying tournament in New Haven, Conn. “I had a great match, a really good win. But next round will be a big test. It will be a good challenge. It’s a young tournament, but I’m ready.”

Fernandez lost only three games in a 6-3, 6-0 victory over Svitolina, and with the wind blowing for the remainder of the tournament the Ukrainian, who has faced 12 double-faults in her last two matches, had to hope it was a fluke or she would lose ground in a match that lasted one hour and 31 minutes.

“I think she played a little bit better than me, in the second set she played a little bit better than me,” Svitolina said. “If I wasn’t happy then I would lose that set, so I really had to do something. But I wasn’t, so I’m pretty sure she didn’t do anything.”

In the next round, however, the 76th-ranked Fernandez will play the remaining top qualifier, another 20-year-old, Madison Brengle, for a spot in the quarterfinals. Brengle is ranked 38th, 10 places ahead of Fernandez.

“She plays really good defense and she’s a really good server. It’s going to be hard,” Fernandez said. “I’ll have to play a good match. It’s going to be hard to play her next, too. I’m going to have to be on. But it’s not going to be an easy match and it’s going to be really tough.”

Brengle won’t have to look very far, however, to remember where she was when Fernandez beat the No. 1 player in the world.

“A great start,” Brengle said of her run to the quarterfinals. “I just can’t say that I’m surprised, you know?”

Brengle said she has faced Fernandez before, but as an opponent she has known little about her.

“I feel like this is definitely a different level,” Brengle said. “But I feel like I’m going to try to find the new level and I’ll be ready. It’s going to be a very high-level match. She’s very young, and I’m very excited to see where we go from here.”

As for Svitolina, she knows that Fernandez is not the only player she needs to find her place in the world.

“I have to go there [to the next level] now because the last two months I haven’t played this well and I was suffering,” Svitolina said. “First couple weeks after the Australian Open I went there to play some tournaments, and I did not feel good.”

Svitolina, who now has five quarterfinal appearances at Grand Slams, lost in the second round at the French Open and the third round at Wimbledon.

“I know I have to do more, I know I have to play really well,” she said. “You have to raise your level. This is the good news, and I have to go to [Sunday’s] match believing that I have to raise my level again. I’m thinking good things.”

But at least she can take solace from one thing: It was a 6-3, 6-0 loss, not an 6-0, 6-0 one, and Svitolina didn’t lose to a qualifier.

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