Leylah Annie Fernandez made history as she became the first Canadian to claim the Junior French Open title with victory over Emma Navarro of the United States on Saturday.
The 16 year old, No. 1 seed had suffered heartbreak just a few months ago when she lost in the final of the Junior Australian Open – but there was no repeat performance in Paris as the left-handed youngster from Laval, Quebec put on a polished display to beat Navarro 6-3, 6-2.
In becoming a Junior Grand Slam champion, Fernandez followed in the footsteps of Félix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov – both of whom are performing well on the ATP Tour and currently sit in the world’s top 25 having won titles on the junior circuit first.
It’s been a terrific year so far for Fernandez. Her Australian Open final appearance back in January was followed by a call up to Canada’s Fed Cup team to face reigning champions Czech Republic in April. There, the youngster held her own despite losing to Marketa Vondrousova, currently ranked No. 38 on the WTA Tour, in Prostejov.
In Paris, Fernandez was flawless as she went through the entire tournament without dropping a set and without needing a tiebreak. In the final, the teenager broke Navarro twice in the first set and three times in the second set to claim an impressive victory as well as the trophy.
Canadian players have previously enjoyed victories in Junior Grand Slam events at Wimbledon, where Eugenie Bouchard (2012), Filip Peliwo (2012) and Shapovalov (2016) claimed the crown, and the US Open, where Peliwo (2012) and Auger-Aliassime (2016) were successful.
Fernandez’s win at the Junior French Open marked the first time since 2004 that the top seed had won the tournament.