Fernandez drops a set but prevails to enter Abierto GNP Seguros quarterfinals

MANILA, Philippines – Unlike in her career breakthrough WTA triumph last year, Leylah Fernandez is in for an uphill battle for back-to-back title run in the Abierto GNP Seguros 2022 in Monterrey, Mexico.

The US Women's Open finalist, who didn't yield a set on her way to winning this event with a 6-1, 6-4 triumph over Swiss qualifier Victorija Golubic in the finals, stumbled late in the second set but displayed grace under pressure in the tiebreaker, frustrating rising Chinese star Qinwen Zheng with a 6-1, 4-6, 7-5(3) victory that sent her to the quarterfinals of the event Wednesday (Thursday, Manila time).

Fernandez proved clutch as she snatched a couple of points out of disputed plays to go 6-3 in the tiebreaker then unloaded a service winner to finish off the taller Zheng in a mind-draining two-hour, 41-minute encounter.

The second seeded Filipino-Canadian will next face the winner in the Mayar Sherif of Egypt-Wang Qiang of China duel for a spot in the semis Friday.

Joining her in the Last 8 are No. 5 Camila Osorio, who disposed of local bet Marcela Zacarias, 7-6(2), 6-3; and Brazilian Bea Haddad Maia, who blasted Chinese Xinyu Wang, 6-2, 6-2; with top seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine tipped to join them later along with Spain’s Sorribes Tormo and Parrizas Diaz.

The 19-year-old world No. 21 Fernandez, who trounced Slovak Anna Schmiediova, 6-2, 6-3, to kick off her title-retention drive, peppered Zheng with seven aces but had to overcome 10 double faults, five more than her rival, to survive the tough challenge.

So shaky was her stint behind the service line that she fumbled with four double faults right in the first two games although it included a break that put her in command early. She broke the Chinese again in the sixth then claimed the 39-minute opening set romp by holding serve off a deuce game in the seventh.

But down 4-5 in the second set, Fernandez squandered a 40-30 edge as Zheng took four of the next five points to break her and send the match into a decider where they traded serves all through 12 games with both thwarting each other's crack at break a couple of times.

Zheng wrested the lead in the tiebreak off her serve but the determined Fernandez won the next three, including a break in the fourth and a contested point in the seventh, for a 5-2 lead.

Zheng stayed in the hunt in the next play but lost the succeeding point as Fernandez’s high forehand volley barely hit the baseline after another review with the latter riding high on that break to oust the Chinese off a strong serve.

Credit belongs to : www.philstar.com

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