No.17 seed Leylah Fernandez reached the fourth round of Roland Garros for the first time with a 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 against No.14 seed Belinda Bencic in a 2-hour, 49-minute tug-of-war. She will meet No.27 Amanda Anisimova, who advanced after an ankle injury forced Karolina Muchova to retire trailing 6-7(7), 6-2, 3-0.

The result marks the second time Fernandez, 19, has reached the second week of a Grand Slam, following her breakthrough run to last year's US Open final. The Canadian, who won the Roland Garros girls' title in 2019, saved two set points in the first set and came back from an early break down in the decider.

It is also her second win against Bencic in as many meetings. As a No.185-ranked 17-year-old facing a Top 10 opponent for the first time, she upset Bencic 6-2, 7-6(3) in the 2020 Billie Jean King Cup qualifiers. Two years on, Fernandez is ranked No.18, and her win over the Swiss player is her second Top 20 victory of 2022.

Match management: It was a contest in which both players mirrored each other's tactics by taking the ball early, redirecting it continually and looking for opportunities to out-manoeuvre the other. Bencic racked up 42 to only 18 unforced errors, while Fernandez found 34 to 22 unforced errors. 

Given the similarity of their games and the overall high level, the match came down to who was better able to ride out the ebbs and flows. Fernandez started brightly, building a 3-0 lead, only for Bencic to win five of the next six games and serve for the first set.

But Fernandez forced an error with fine forehand on the first set point and Bencic missed a putative backhand winner by inches on the second. Errors crept into Bencic's game, and three games later she missed a short backhand to hand the set to Fernandez.

At 1-1 in the second set, Bencic received a warning for taking too much time between points -- and the Olympic champion channeled her frustration into her tennis. She would deliver a clinic of controlled aggression, finding 18 winners in the second set to level the match and take a 2-0 lead in the third.

But with triple game point to lead 3-0, Bencic took her foot off the gas and Fernandez came up with some magnificent backhand angles to seize momentum. Notably, the teenager also improved her first serve percentage from 42% in the second set to 62% in the third, and this time it was her turn to win five out of six games to take a 5-3 lead.

Fernandez was unable to serve out the win at the first attempt; an eighth double fault did not help. But errors from the Bencic forehand enabled her to break back immediately, and Fernandez made no mistake the second time. Three unreturned serves brought up triple match point, and Bencic netted a volley on the first.

Fernandez on getting back to the grind: "After the US Open I did put a little bit more pressure on myself. That's normal, because I want to reproduce what I did in the US Open over and over again. I think after the first few tournaments, I accepted that I will not be playing the same way every single time. I will just have to find solutions and keep working hard. Over the course of the year I have just been sticking to that, just putting my head down and just grinding it out every day.

"The first five months [of 2022] is definitely some ups and downs, but our team and our spirit is always high. We always want to improve. We don't see it as -- how do I say this? -- as a failure, the first five months. I see it more as I've got a lot to improve and I can just get better.

"Because that's the beauty of tennis, that we have a tournament every week and I can just keep working on some technical things, some tactical things. If it works, that's great. If it doesn't work, we can just go back to the drawing board and get ready for the upcoming weeks and tournaments."

leylah fernandez
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100% Win 2
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amanda anisimova

Anisimova makes second week for second Slam in 2022

Anisimova, 20, continued her 2022 resurgence by reaching the fourth round for the second time in as many Grand Slams this season. The American ended 2021 ranked No.78, but is already back up to No.28 after compiling a 23-8 record so far. That includes a second career title at Melbourne Summer Set 2, a fourth-round showing at the Australian Open, a semifinal run in Charleston and quarterfinals in Madrid and Rome.

The result marks Anisimova's fourth overall Grand Slam second-week showing and her second at Roland Garros following her breakthrough 2019 semifinal run.

The unfortunate ending was even more of a pity given the quality of the contest prior to Muchova's injury. A stellar first set saw the Czech's flair in full flow, and Anisimova responding to it with not only her customary power but creativity as well. A series of highlight reel points ensued, including a reflex drop shot from Muchova hit face-on to the ball and while falling backwards.

Momentum shifted incrementally back and forth. Muchova went up a break three times and served for the set at 6-5, but Anisimova broke back immediately on each occasion. Entering the tiebreak, each player had saved a set point -- Muchova with a service winner at 4-5 and Anisimova with a hefty return at 5-6.

A seesaw tiebreak saw Anisimova take a 5-1 lead, only for Muchova to bounce back with five straight points. Anisimova held one more set point at 7-6, only to miss an open court with a drive volley. Muchova converted her third when Anisimova sent a drop shot attempt wide.

Muchova had levelled at 2-2 in the second set from 2-0 down when she went over on her right ankle. The former World No.19, who was playing only her fourth tournament since returning from an abdominal injury that sidelined her for six months, attempted to continue. But despite a couple of nip-and-tuck games as Anisimova adjusted to playing an injured opponent, Muchova's movement was visibly hampered. Unable to run for drop shots or returns in the third set, she was forced to call it quits.