Leylah Annie Fernandez only gets to play in Montreal, the city where she was born, once every two years at the National Bank Open presented by Rogers which means that she is extra motivated to make each visit count.
That will certainly be the case when she arrives at IGA Stadium in a few days. It will mark the first time she takes the court in front of her home fans since becoming a Grand Slam singles finalist at the U.S. Open in 2021 and a Major doubles runner-up at Roland-Garros in June.
The last time she played in Montreal two years ago, Fernandez was ranked no. 70 in the world and lost in the opening round to British qualifier Harriet Dart. It was a disappointing result in a less-than-ideal situation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic which included limited crowds and challenging restrictions. Since then, she has gone on to achieve a career-high ranking of no. 13 in singles and no. 21 in doubles, won the second WTA singles title of her career in addition to her standout Grand Slam performances.
In 2018, the last time the women were welcomed by capacity crowds in Montreal, the 20-year-old was playing in qualifying on Court 5. What a journey she’s been on since then and she’s looking forward to sharing her growth with the fans who have supported her from the beginning.
It seems that playing in Canada or representing her country at the Billie Jean King Cup brings out the best in Fernandez, especially lately as evidenced by her stellar 11-2 record in the competition since 2021. Hopefully, that’s a good omen for what’s to come at the NBO this year. Wins have been hard to come by for her this season and she’s coming off a heartbreaking loss to Caroline Garcia in the second round at Wimbledon that needed a third set tiebreak to decide it. She’s in need of a confidence boost and what better place to turn things around than at her home tournament.
Fernandez’s return to Montreal has been a long time coming so it promises to be a week to remember for Quebec’s tennis hero who is such a great ambassador for her province on the international scene and it’s finally time for us to show her our love and appreciation.