Roland Garros

Friday, 27 May 2022

Paris, France

Leylah Fernandez

Press Conference


7-5, 3-6, 7-5

THE MODERATOR: Incredible fight out there. What were you able to do to get the win today?

LEYLAH FERNANDEZ: Yes, it was an incredible fight. I think today I was just trusting my game when it mattered the most, and I'm just glad that I was able to trust it enough for me to keep going and keep executing the game plan.

Afterwards, just enjoying the moment and enjoying the time that I had in Philippe Chatrier in front of an amazing crowd. I'm glad that I was able just to soak every minute in and play well, play well when it mattered and play well in front of a beautiful crowd.

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. Yourself and also Coco and Anisimova all won today. Do you guys kind of cheer each other on and does that give you extra motivation, there is like this generation of North Americans all doing well at once?

LEYLAH FERNANDEZ: Yeah, of course. I know them fairly well. I'm always happy to see younger players like the next generation coming up and playing so well in the tour.

I think it's great for the sport, and it's also good for the fans. You know, we can bring in more the younger fans into tennis, just enjoying the matches. Hopefully they can pick up a tennis racquet.

I think it's just great to see that all of us, we are improving every year and that we keep playing against the best players in the world here and we can keep our own.

Q. How much does it help winning the junior title here when it comes to playing in the main draw? Seems like there are an awful lot of players in the draw that have done that. Does this have something to do with the clay or is it a confidence thing?

LEYLAH FERNANDEZ: Well, to be honest, I think this year I totally forgot that I won the juniors a few years back. You know, I think it helped the first few years when I came here to kind of get used to it and find my footing in the tour, in the WTA Tour.

So I think that's good playing the junior Grand Slams, that you get to see the professionals, see how they play, how they warm up. When I did get into the Roland Garros a few years back in the professional side, I was able to just to kind of copy what they were doing and just try to find my own rhythm, my own way of training, my own way of doing things, my own routine.

And I think this year everything is just coming in together.

Q. It's never a guarantee when you win a junior Grand Slam you are going to make it as a pro, but is the actual sort of act of winning that final important in terms of the progression? Because there are a lot of players who've done well in juniors but then don't make it.

LEYLAH FERNANDEZ: Everybody has a different path. I can't say that winning a junior Grand Slam will help a player to become a professional. But what I can say is that every single one of those players are working hard and they are fighting for their dream.

Sometimes it just comes with luck. You know, I think I was very lucky with the opportunities that I got, and I was able to take advantage of those opportunities. And then I think for me, I think the juniors definitely helped me and my tennis game to see where my level is at.

Then when I decided to play some ITF professionals I was able to gauge where I am, especially with my maturity and my personality and what I could improve not only tennis-wise but also like fitness-wise.

So I think everybody just has a different path, and you know you've just got to trust in your own process and in your own team.

Q. This is your third French Open. Obviously you are still extremely young. Wondering, do you feel like you have like growing experience to kind of draw on in these moments against such a good player?

LEYLAH FERNANDEZ: Yes, of course. Every match is a learning experience; the wins, and especially the losses.

I have lost a lot of matches to get here. So I think every match, what's good about my team and I, we were able to use it as a learning experience to see where I can improve and what I'm doing good, too. Because sometimes we are working on some things and I'm doing good. It's just a few execution points here and there.

But I think it's just the ability to keep learning from every match that we have, that that helps me put in a position where I can say that I'll just need to trust my game and just fight for every point.

Q. The first five months of the year, how would you look back on this year so far? How you've played and how things have gone.

LEYLAH FERNANDEZ: Yeah, the first five months is definitely some ups and downs, but, you know, I think our team and our spirit is always high.

We always like want to improve. We don't see it as -- how do I say this? -- as a failure, the first five months. I see it more as I've got a lot to improve and I can just get better.

I think that's what we want to do is just to get better, because that's the beauty of tennis, that we have a tournament every week and I can just keep working on some technical things, some tactical things. If it works, that's great. If it doesn't work, we can just go back to the drawing board and get ready for the upcoming weeks and tournaments.

Q. Is it right that you were born a righty? Is that true? Because you play with a lot of lefty-ocity. Doesn't make sense that you are fighting your own natural person.

LEYLAH FERNANDEZ: That's a very good question. I was born ambidextrous. Playing tennis, I was more comfortable with my left hand than my right hand.

However, I do know that, like I always told my dad that if I injure my left arm I was going to play with my right arm, no problem.

So like some funny moments like that. But I was born ambidextrous. I'm able to do some things with my right hand or my right foot better than my left, left hand, right foot. It's just a weird dynamic back home.

Q. Who decided you're going to be a lefty? Was that your call?

LEYLAH FERNANDEZ: It was my call, and then my dad says, You know, it's actually a good idea, because it wasn't because he thought of it as an advantage. It was more of his grandfather was left-handed. I think my mom's mom was left-handed, and they just wanted to keep that tradition going, just like, just for fun (smiling).

Q. I wanted to ask you post the US Open last year if you put any pressure on yourself? Did you feel pressure coming into the new year? If you had also added to that by having more expectations on your game and yourself, if you can talk a little about that.

LEYLAH FERNANDEZ: Yeah, I think after the US Open I did have a little bit -- I did put a little bit more pressure on myself. That's normal, because I want to reproduce what I did in the US Open over and over again.

I think after the first few tournaments, I accepted that I will not be playing the same way every single time. I will just have to find solutions and keep working hard. Over the course of the year I have just been sticking to that, just putting my head down and just grinding it out every day.

I think I'm just glad that this week it's been showing some, I have been showing some good tennis, and I have been just improving.

Q. There is a lot of youngsters coming through now. You, Coco -- Coco can really relate to a lot of the pressures that you felt -- and Raducanu from the British side of things. How do you approach the year, I guess, and this year after your huge success considering there are a lot of outward pressures, as well, outward expectations? If you can talk about that rather than your own.

LEYLAH FERNANDEZ: Well, every player is different, but I think Coco, she's doing a tremendous job, Emma, too. They're still here, they keep fighting for their spots.

I think for me, I just try to surround myself with good people, a great team. And up till now we have been doing a good job in kind of eliminating those external pressures or external voices and just focus on my tennis game, that when I need to improve something, like they are not afraid to tell me the truth.

I think that definitely helps me in being a better tennis player, then also ultimately a better person. Because I can just accept it and move on and keep working.

Q. I just wondered, last year's US Open was so extraordinary and unique in so many different ways. I know it ended differently for you and Emma, but I just wondered what your relationship is like with her. You have both kind of shared something that not many other people can understand. Do you have a connection?

LEYLAH FERNANDEZ: I think we have just mutual respect of each other, because like I said, we both came from different paths, and what she did is tremendous. I think it's just great for the sport what we both did.

When we do see each other crossing the halls, practice courts, we always like smile at each other, because we both know what we did was incredible.

We just want the best for each other and that hopefully, like, both of us, we can keep going for many years to come, and we can both play beautiful matches like that and just put on a good show for the fans.

Q. Anisimova up next. How do you see that matchup? How much have you played against her in your life? Did you play against her a lot as a junior?

LEYLAH FERNANDEZ: Amanda is a great player. She's been at this stage for like a few times, actually. Like, she's been deep into tournaments a lot this year, so I know she's going to be a tough player.

I just need to focus on myself. I will be talking with my coach, my team, and see what I can improve and what I need to do for my next match. Hopefully I can play a good game and put on a good show for the fans.

I unfortunately did not play many matches against her in the juniors, but I do remember watching her playing, and what she did is nothing less than incredible.

I'm just glad that we are both here on the WTA Tour. Yeah, that's it.

THE MODERATOR: Questions in French.

Q. Did you have the time to communicate with your relatives to know if their hearts survived?

LEYLAH FERNANDEZ: Yes, I talked with my mom and my aunts, and they are feeling well. They are still alive, so I'm happy about that.

Otherwise they are happy for me. We can celebrate together but in different parts of the world.

Q. Without comparison, what about the feelings here from the beginning of the tournament? Is it similar to what you had felt during your journey during the US Open regarding confidence, your game? Are there parallels that can be drawn?

LEYLAH FERNANDEZ: Yes, of course there are parallels. At the beginning of the tournament it was a bit difficult with my emotions, like in New York, but I'm happy I was able to go through the two first rounds and today, to have fun on the court like against Naomi.

But I'm very happy that today I was able to play in front of a French crowd and not only in front of a U.S. crowd.

Q. I have one question regarding a French player, Diane Parry who will play today. You know each other, you have the same age, you played together in doubles in junior. What do you think about Diane?

LEYLAH FERNANDEZ: Diane is an excellent player. We have known each other for many years, since the juniors. I have seen her play several times and several matches here in Paris and also in the Junior Masters.

Unfortunately I have never played against her in singles, but in doubles we were able to play together and she's an excellent and talented player. I'm very happy that she's in the third round and she will be able to play a great match in front of her crowd.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
120855-1-1063 2022-05-27 14:36:00 GMT

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