Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez won the Abierto GNP Seguros on Sunday, her first WTA singles title, with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over qualifier Viktorija Golubic.
"The last game basically, especially the last two points, I was very nervous there," Fernandez said in her post-match press conference. "But I just tried to calm myself, just think about the moment, and try to execute the plan as best as I can. I’m happy that the balls went in for me."
Fernandez earned her breakthrough without dropping a set all week. She finished her run with a 1-hour and 30-minute victory over her Swiss opponent.
Fernandez continued her impressive run in Mexico. She made her previous WTA singles final in Acapulco last season, before reaching the quarterfinals in her Monterrey tournament debut one week later. Fernandez now has a 7-1 career record in Monterrey.
"I just tried to do my best, and tried to use the emotions that I felt last year [in the Acapulco final] as fuel to get the win, and it definitely helped today," Fernandez said.
Fernandez, 18, who was the youngest player in this week’s main draw, was helped along by sturdier play on break points than her opponent. Fernandez converted four of the six points, while Golubic was just 1-for-5.
Golubic can still look fondly on her last two WTA events, where she reached the final as a qualifier each time (also in Lyon two weeks ago). Those were her first two WTA singles finals since 2016, where she won the Gstaad title and reached the Linz final.
"I knew that Viktorija came from a final recently," Fernandez said. "She was playing incredible at the beginning of the year. I just tried to focus on myself, tried to keep playing my game, and do what I did yesterday better today."
In the opening set of the Monterrey final, Fernandez continued to charge the net, which had helped her earn a semifinal victory over last week’s Guadalajara champion Sara Sorribes Tormo. The tactic immediately paid off, as she volleyed her way to a break of the Golubic serve to lead 2-0.
"It’s always been part of my game, trying to go to the net, but I think in the past two matches, it’s been working pretty well for me," Fernandez said. "I was just going out there, having fun on the court, and I wasn’t thinking too much about the consequences. I just went there and tried to execute what I’ve been training."
Fernandez stayed aggressive on return, earning a second break for 4-0, before staving off two break points to increase her lead to 5-0. Golubic at last breezed to a service hold to get on the scoreboard and fired a forehand winner to earn a break point in the next game. But a Fernandez dropshot got the teenager out of that jam, and she held on to take the one-set lead.
Fernandez took an early lead in the second set before Golubic finally earned her first service break of the encounter to level the set at 2-2. The second set was more competitive, as Golubic began to successfully slam single-handed backhands to counter the forward movement by Fernandez.
A pivotal game occurred at 4-4, where Golubic held three game points but could not get the hold. Fernandez took the ball early to earn two break points. On her second chance, she forced an error with a strong return to break for 5-4, and she served out the match in the next game to ease to her first WTA title.
"It was a family effort for years," Fernandez said. "I was very happy that the hard work and sacrifices that we’ve done since the beginning is paying off, and just hoping there will be many more."