Leylah Fernandez saved four match points in the second set on Saturday night at the BNP Paribas Open and won her match against Amanda Anisimova, 2-6, 7-6(0), retired. in a walkover after Anisimova retired before the start of what would have been a third set.
The way Fernandez survived the match was reminiscent of Rafael Nadal, who earlier in the day somehow recovered from two breaks to win his match at Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
“Tell us, Rafa, I mean Leylah,” the stadium announcer told Fernández after their match.
“Enough,” Fernandez said with a smile. “You make me blush.”
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Fernandez, 19, has now saved nine match points in his last two matches. Fernández defeated Camila Osorio in the final of the Abierto GNP Seguros in Monterrey, Mexico, on March 6.
On Monday, she will play the American Shelby Rogers. Rogers defeated 10th seed Jelena Ostapenko on Saturday.
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The Canadian looked out of sync for much of Saturday’s match at Stadium 2. In front of a crowd of over 5,000, the 20-year-old American advanced two breaks to take a 3-0 lead and dominated the first set.
Although Fernandez erased one of those breaks by winning the next game, Anisimova’s powerful groundstrokes kept Fernandez moving and Anisimova cruised to a 6-2 victory in the first set.
For most of the match, Anisimova was in control. She looked like she would have her third top-25 win of the year, including both of hers against Naomi Osaka and Belinda Bencic at the Australian Open in January.
But the final half of the second set was as strange as in tennis. With Anisimova leading 5-4 and up 40-0, Fernandez seemed to flip a switch and struggled to win the set, saving match point after match point. It was a commanding stretch for the 2021 US Open finalist.
“The best advice I can give someone right now is, ‘Don’t fail,'” Fernandez said. “Enjoy the moment, enjoy the fight, because this is once in a lifetime. You’re down, you’re still in it, you just have to find the solutions, and I’m glad the solutions came at the right time.”
After the set ended with Fernandez winning a 7-0 tiebreak, Anisimova was visibly emotional and approached the chair umpire to tell him that she was sick and was withdrawing from the match.
The match came a day after Anisimova’s manager Darren Cahill was reported to have ended their partnership this week in Indian Wells. It was reported that Cahill could not commit to the demands of the World Tour and that his decision had nothing to do with Anisimova.
Although Anisimova had a decent part of the crowd going for her, Fernandez also seemed to have a huge amount of support. She said she played a part in what could be a small moment in a career-igniting game here in Indian Wells.
“It means the world to me,” Fernandez said. “For everyone here in the stadium, coming to cheer us on means a lot. That’s the reason why I play tennis, just to feel that emotion, that adrenaline… and put on a good show.”
Andrew John covers sports for The Desert Sun and USA Today Network. Email him at [email protected] and find him on Twitter at @Andrew_L_John.
This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: BNP Paribas Open: Leylah Fernandez beats Amanda Anisimova in weird ending at Indian Wells