(Sydney) There is no doubt that Leylah Annie Fernandez loves team competitions in tennis. And above all, she is used to offering some tough play.
About six weeks after being the main architect of the Canadian delegation’s first-ever triumph at the Billie-Jean-King Cup Finals, Fernandez won both matches in which she participated and allowed Canada to win its duel against Chile, Sunday, as part of the United Cup.
Canada won this first duel in the absence of Félix Auger-Aliassime who, originally, was to play in singles and mixed doubles alongside Fernandez.
However, the Montrealer had to content himself with the role of spectator on Canada’s bench due to new knee pain, according to what he declared during an interview with an Australian television station while the duel was underway. in progress.
Rushed onto the court in the very first match of the dual, Fernandez, ranked 35th in the world in singles, easily defeated Daniela Seguel, ranked 668th, 6-2, 6-3.
Later in the day, the Laval resident joined forces with those of Steven Diez to snatch a 7-5, 4-6, 10-8 victory from the tandem formed by Seguel and Tomás Barrios Vera.
“I am extremely happy and proud of the team,” Fernadez said. “It was stressful with the ups and downs, but we stayed calm and positive and turned it to our advantage. »
Between these two matches, Diez, who ranks 314th in the ATP singles rankings, lost in two sets of 7-5, 6-4 to Nicolas Jarry, a six-foot-six giant who ranked 19th in the world.
Diez fought well for almost two hours against a quality rival, but he never managed to give himself a break point. The 32-year-old Canadian was the victim of two service breaks. The first allowed Jarry to complete the initial set and the second, the match.
“I was a little surprised that Felix didn’t show up on court, but it was about time I paid him back for the ATP Cup victory in 2021,” Diez quipped.
“The legs felt a bit heavy and tired, but I was really motivated and we kept our composure and showed a great attitude. »
With its victory, Canada took first place in Group B, which is completed by Greece. Canada and Greece will face off on Wednesday evening at Ken Rosewall Arena in Sydney.
In principle, Greece should send Stefanos Tsitsipas and Maria Sakkari for the two singles duels.
The United Cup is a tournament that brings together 18 countries in six groups. Nine of these countries play in Sydney and the other nine in Perth. The duels include a men’s singles match, a women’s singles match and a final mixed doubles match.
The winners of each group will advance to the elimination phase, as will the best second in Sydney and the best second in Perth. The grand finale will take place on January 7 in Sydney.
It is one of several preparatory tournaments ahead of the Australian Open, the first of four Grand Slam tournaments, which will run from January 14 to 28 in Melbourne.