ACAPULCO, Mexico – In just 64 minutes, Canadian teenager Leylah Annie Fernandez upset No.8 seed Nao Hibino to reach her first WTA-level quarterfinal at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC, 6-3, 6-0.
Competing in her fifth career WTA main draw this week, the 17-year-old was dominant across three matches coming into Wednesday’s clash against the No.8 seed, and was similarly on-song against the World No.71 in their fourth career meeting.
“It feels great. I’m happy with my performance today and I’m happy that I got the win, and hopefully, it keeps going,” Fernandez said after the match.
“The main strategy was to play my game, to keep going, being aggressive and take command of the point. I was happy that I was able to get the win today against a great player like her.”
Having lost a heartbreaking, nearly-three-hour match to Hibino last fall at the Japan Women’s Open in Hiroshima – a 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 7-5 first-round defeat to the eventual champion in which she led by a set and a break – Fernandez faced none of the same adversity in Mexico.
“I’ve played her a few times in the past, and they’ve all been great matches,” the Canadian added. “I guess I knew how she plays a little bit, and I was better prepared for it.”
Behind five breaks of serve overall, and the loss of just five points in the second set, the Canadian sealed consecutive WTA main draw wins for the first time in her fledgling career, and set an all-teenaged clash against Anastasia Potapova in the last eight.
Her run continues!
— WTA (@WTA) February 27, 2020
The Russian scored a 6-3, 6-3 victory over German veteran Tatjana Maria in her second round match, and the two teenagers will face off at WTA level for the first time for a spot in the final four.
“I know she’s a great player and that she’s tough to play with,” Fernandez said of the World No.97. “I’m excited for what’s to come for tomorrow, and hopefully, I’ll keep going with this momentum and cross my fingers to move on to the semifinals.”
All eight of Fernandez’s victories this season have come against players ranked ahead of her, highlighted by a statement victory against then-World No.5 Belinda Bencic earlier this month in Fed Cup.
In addition to two teenage dreams, Mexican wildcard Renata Zarazua’s run also continued on Wednesday evening in dramatic fashion. The 22-year-old from Mexico City rallied from a set down, and saved seven break points which would’ve seen her trail, 6-4, 5-2, to beat American teenager Katie Volynets, 4-6, 7-5, 6-0.
She will next face Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek, who came through a match against her teenaged compatriot Kaja Juvan, the first-round conquerer of Venus Williams, 6-2, 6-2.