No.17 seed Leylah Fernandez defeated No.27 Amanda Anisimova 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in a fourth-round clash of under-21 talent at Roland Garros. Fernandez reached her second Grand Slam quarterfinal and first in Paris in 1 hour and 54 minutes.
The US Open finalist will next meet another left-hander in Martina Trevisan, who squeaked past Aliaksandra Sasnovich 7-6(10), 7-5 in 1 hour and 59 minutes to extend her winning streak to nine matches. Having previously made the last eight as a qualifier in 2020, Trevisan became the third Italian in the Open Era to reach two or more Roland Garros quarterfinals following Francesca Schiavone and Sara Errani.
Fernandez, the 2019 junior champion, had not won consecutive tour-level matches since putting together a seven-match streak of her own in March, when she defended her Monterrey title and reached the fourth round of Indian Wells. The latter tournament had featured her only previous meeting with Anisimova, in which she saved four match points before the American retired due to illness.
Anisimova had been the last remaining player in the third quarter to have previously reached the Roland Garros semifinals, a feat she achieved in 2019 at the age of 17. Her record in Grand Slam fourth rounds falls to 1-3.
Match management: Fernandez enjoyed a lightning start, dictating play with whipped backhand winners and judicious net play to leap out to a 4-0 lead. But double faults began to creep into the 19-year-old's game as Anisimova settled. It was too late to turn the first set around, but Fernandez dropping serve twice before requiring five set points to serve it out indicated that momentum had begun to shift.
Anisimova underlined that by seizing control of the second set with stellar first-strike play. The 20-year-old had tallied seven winners in the first set, and a sequence of sweetly-struck backhands helped to raise that number to 18 in the second. Anisimova excelled off both wings, though: it was a forehand down the line that garnered her the key break for 3-1.
As in the first set, the seeds of a momentum change were planted as the player with the lead tried to close it out. A crowd-pleasing pickup from Fernandez followed by a winner off an attempted dropshot prevented Anisimova from serving the set out; and though Anisimova rose to the occasion to break Fernandez in the next game, the dynamic had shifted again.
Fernandez's serving had started well, and got better and better as the match went on. She landed 73% of her first serves in the first set, 80% in the second, and an impressive 86% in the decider. Quality deliveries helped her escape triple break point in the second game of the third set, and she would not be pressured on serve again as Anisimova was unable to get any consistent hold of her returns.
Instead, consecutive return winners from Fernandez paved the way to a break for 3-2. Two more would feature in the final game, and a deep return at Anisimova's feet that forced an error sealed Fernandez's second match point.
Fernandez on still feeling like the underdog: "Every time I step out on the court I still have something to prove. 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. That's ultimately my goal, and that's why I want to do well in matches."
Fernandez on nicknames: "I think it's actually pretty amazing that [the media] came up with Clay-lah, because I have no creativity for that. I wouldn't think of that nickname.
"But my family do use the nickname Leylannie, using my first and middle name, and they put it together, which I always like. I know that I'm doing things right or I'm being a good kid when they're calling me Leylannie."
Trevisan rises again with winning streak
Trevisan had been one of the surprises of Roland Garros 2020, where - as a qualifier contesting her second major main draw - she took out names including Maria Sakkari, Coco Gauff and Kiki Bertens to land in the last eight.
However, she struggled to adjust to tour level. Between Roland Garros 2020 and Rome 2022, Trevisan's record in WTA main draws was a meagre 5-20, although she was able to maintain her Top 100 ranking thanks to solid performances in WTA 125 and ITF events.
Last week, though, the 28-year-old captured her maiden title in Rabat, sparking a renaissance of form. Trevisan has dropped just one set in her past nine matches, to Garbiñe Muguruza in the second round of Rabat. She demonstrated her confidence on key points to come through a narrowly-contested first-time encounter over Sasnovich which featured the second-longest tiebreak of the season so far.
Firing her left-handed forehand with panache, No.59-ranked Trevisan repeatedly edged into the lead, only to be pegged back. Sasnovich twice came from a break down in the first set and seemed to be in the ascendancy when she broke for 6-5 with a jumping backhand winner.
But Trevisan recovered to force a tiebreak, in which she had to save one set point before converting her fifth. The only longer tiebreak (by score) in a tour-level main draw this year was Barbora Krejcikova's 0-6, 6-4, 7-6(12) victory over Anett Kontaveit in the Sydney semifinals.
Longest tiebreak scores of 2022 in WTA main draw matches
Barbora Krejcikova d. Anett Kontaveit 0-6, 6-4, 7-6(12), Sydney SF
Martina Trevisan d. Aliaksandra Sasnovich 7-6(10), 7-5, Roland Garros R4
Jelena Ostapenko d. Petra Kvitova 5-7, 7-5, 7-6(9), Dubai QF
Jil Teichmann d. Alison Van Uytvanck 7-6(9), 7-5, Doha R2
Yulia Putintseva d. Robin Anderson 6-2, 7-6(9), Charleston R1
Paula Badosa d. Ons Jabeur 76(9), 1-6, 6-3, Stuttgart QF
Veronika Kudermetova d. Anna Bondar 7-6(9), 7-6(3), Istanbul QF
Ons Jabeur d. Jasmine Paolini 7-6(9), 6-1, Madrid R1
The second set saw Sasnovich again come from an early break down to take a 5-3 lead. But with her back to the wall, Trevisan surged again, pulling off the shot of the match with a defensive dropshot at full stretch en route to breaking back. Indeed, Trevisan would rattle through 16 of the last 20 points of the match, converting her first match point as Sasnovich netted a backhand.
Trevisan on bouncing back from 2021: "Last year was very difficult for me. But I collected a lot of experience, positive and negative experience, and at the beginning of this year I was dreaming this moment. Because in myself, in my head, I see again this moment. I thought to myself, yes, Martina, you can do again. I will like to live again this emotion. I mean, I'm here, so I'm really happy."