Tennis·ROUNDUP

Canada's Leylah Fernandez advances to French Open quarter-finals, Auger-Aliassime loses thriller to Nadal

There will be one Canadian in the Roland Garros singles quarter-finals this year, after Leylah Fernandez edged out American Amanda Anisimova 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in their fourth-round match Sunday. Fellow Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime came oh, so close to joining her in the men's final eight, only to fall just short.

Fernandez next faces No. 59-ranked Martina Trevisan

Canada's Leylah Fernandez celebrates winning her fourth-round match against Amanda Anisimova of the U.S. in three sets 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, at the French Open tennis tournament in Roland Garros stadium in Paris on Sunday. (Thibault Camus/The Associated Press)

There will be one Canadian in the Roland Garros singles quarter-finals this year, after Leylah Fernandez edged out American Amanda Anisimova 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in their fourth-round match Sunday in Paris, France.

Fellow Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime came oh, so close to joining her in the men's final eight, only to fall just short.

In an epic against 13-time champion Rafael Nadal that was arguably the best match of the 2022 tournament so far and the finest match of the 21-year-old Auger-Aliassime's career — even in defeat — Nadal showed his champion's mettle at the very end of the four-hour, 20-minute epic to squeeze through 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

For Fernandez, the opportunities abound in a decimated women's singles draw that lost nine of its top 10 seeds in the first week.

Only world No. 1 Iga Swiatek remains. She's in the other half, and the two could only meet in the final.

"It was a very hard match, an incredible match for the both of us. I think we brought a high level," Fernandez said of the win over Anisimova.

WATCH | Fernandez makes it through to French Open quarters:

19-year-old Fernandez advances to quarters at French Open

2 years ago
Duration 2:17
Canadian Leylah Fernandez defeated American Amanda Anisimova 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals in Paris for the first time in her career.

The American was a women's singles semifinalist at age 17, in 2019, the year 16-year-old Fernandez won the junior girls' title.

Since then, their careers have gone in somewhat opposite directions.

"I'm just glad that today I was able to fight through some difficult moments and just enjoy the game as much as possible," Fernandez added.

For the Laval, Que., native based in Florida, the next challenge will be No. 59 ranked Martina Trevisan, who beat Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich 7-6(10) 7-5 in the fourth round on Sunday.

Trevisan, a 28-year-old from Italy, was an improbable quarter-finalist in the 2020 edition of Roland Garros held before few fans, at the peak of the pandemic and in chilly October Paris weather.

"We don't have many lefthanders on tour, so I think it will be a tricky match, like every single match is going to be tricky," Fernandez said. "We are just going to have to find solutions, just find a way to play against a left-hander."

Fernandez is the first Canadian woman to make the Roland Garros quarter-finals since Eugenie Bouchard in 2014.

Auger-Aliassime pushes Nadal to 5th set

Auger-Aliassime was looking to be the first men's quarter-finalist in Paris since Milos Raonic, also in 2014.

He threw the kitchen sink at Nadal tactically in that endeavour.

The Canadian served well — very well, for most of the match. He was aggressive with his forehand, used the drop shot and came into the net a lot.

On a number of occasions, his brilliance even was rewarded by a racquet clap of appreciation by Nadal.

WATCH | Nadal pushes past Auger-Aliassime in thriller:

Nadal battles past Auger-Aliassime at French Open

2 years ago
Duration 2:52
Rafael Nadal had to fight for a five-set victory over Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime and will now face Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals.

And that level of play forced Nadal to raise his own. And there's no doubt the 35-year-old will struggle to rev his aging, legendary machine back up when he faces world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals on Tuesday.

"He was serving well in the fifth set, playing well behind the serve, being very aggressive. And I think he took it even higher, one step further, from 4-3," Auger-Aliassime said. "Honestly, I didn't play a bad game. I did what I had to do. He was dictating, aggressive when he needed to and also defending really well on two points where I came to the net.

"Just a great game from him and then, again, he showed great composure at the end to serve for the match. I was still there trying to win, but he played really well."

Auger-Aliassime kept his head up all the way — always believing, at least from the start of the fourth set after Nadal played a nearly untouchable level in the second and third sets, that he had a chance.

"He's a great player, without a doubt — one of the best players of the world. Very young with a lot of power, great mobility. I think he did a lot of things well. He has been improving every year," Nadal said. "He has a huge serve, puts a lot of pressure, and I was not able to push him back. So I'm very happy about [my] attitude at the end; I was able to play more aggressive, was able to go more often [to] the net."

Rafael Nadal, left, shakes hands with Felix Auger-Aliassime following their match on Sunday. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Afterwards, a subdued Auger-Aliassime felt as you would expect someone to feel who just went 12 rounds with Nadal on Court Philippe Chatrier to feel: pretty stiff.

"A lot of effort, a lot of concentration. At one point — even though he raised the level of his game — there were a few dips. Physically, mentally, and I lost my intentions at one point," Auger-Aliassime said. "But despite everything, I managed to come back when necessary, to serve well again."

A week ago, Auger-Aliassime's big accomplishment at Roland Garros was to win a main-draw match for the first time in his career.

Reaching the fourth round and giving the 13-time champion everything he could handle for more than four hours was beyond most expectations.

Next for him is the grass, a surface on which — unlike the clay at Roland Garros — he has had a lot of success.

Auger-Aliassime's first grass-court tournament is scheduled in Hertogenbosch, Netherlands in a week's time. And if he recovers well, he intends to play it.

As for Fernandez, she still has work to do in Paris.

Alcaraz to face Zverev in quarters

In other results, Carlos Alcaraz pummeled Karen Khachanov into submission in a 6-1 6-4 6-4 victory on Sunday to reach the French Open quarter-finals and stretch his winning run to 14 matches.

The 19-year-old, who has taken the tennis world by storm this year, became the youngest male player in 29 years to reach two Grand Slam quarter-finals after also making the U.S. Open last eight.

He needed just 29 minutes to storm through the first set with his special mix of raw power, punishing forehands and deft drop shots that made his 26-year-old opponent look old.

Khachanov, the world number 25 and a quarter-finalist in Paris in 2019, managed to hold serve early in the second set but the Spaniard broke him at 3-3, and never looked back.

The pair traded breaks midway through the third set on a chilly and overcast evening in the French capital but it was Alcaraz who pulled ahead with yet another break after an eye-popping 'tweener' lob over the tall Russian.

He wobbled a bit at the end, wasting five match points on Khachanov's serve, but that only delayed the inevitable by one game, as he sealed victory on his serve minutes later.

World number six Alcaraz, who now has a 19-1 win-loss record on clay this season after winning back-to-back titles in Barcelona and Madrid in April and May, will next face third seed Alexander Zverev, who beat qualifier Bernabe Zapata Miralles 7-6(11) 7-5 6-3 in the fourth round.

Djokovic beat 15th-seeded Diego Schwartzman 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 in the fourth round and has won all 12 sets he's played in the tournament.

Eighteen-year-old Coco Gauff will face 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens in an all-American quarter-final matchup.

Gauff cruised past Belgian Elise Mertens 6-4 6-0 in the fourth round, while Stephens advanced with a commanding 6-2 6-0 win over Swiss 23rd seed Jil Teichmann.

With files from Reuters and CBC Sports

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