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“Don’t call me Clay-lah…yet!” Fernandez not dreaming of Roland-Garros glory

The US Open finalist is into the quarter-finals of Roland-Garros – but she’s not shouting about her clay prowess quite yet

Leylah Fernandez Canada’s Leylah Annie Fernandez celebrates winning her fourth round match against Amanda Anisimova of the U.S. (AI/Reuters/Panoramic)

Leylah Fernandez seemed both amused and impressed when told by a journalist that she was starting to be referred to by the nickname ‘Clay-lah’.

“I think it’s actually pretty amazing that they came up with Clay-lah, because I have no creativity for that, I wouldn’t think of that nickname,” she told a press conference following her progress to the Roland-Garros quarter-finals at the expense of Amanda Anisimova, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.

“But my family do use the nickname Leylannie, using my first and middle name, and they put it together, which I always like, I know that I’m doing things right or I’m like being a good kid when they’re calling me Leylannie.”

But the US Open runner-up refused to say she would adopt the nickname herself if she lifted the trophy.

“I think winning the French Open is a long way from here, and I just want to enjoy today’s win and get ready for my next match.”

Fernandez: Seeing Thierry Henry give me a standing ovation is incredible

Preparation is key for Fernandez – who even skipped watching Real Madrid’s victory in the Champions League final over Liverpool in order to be ready to face Anisimova. She was particularly pleased, then, to see the legendary Thierry Henry in the stands watching her on Sunday.

“I was very, very disappointed I wasn’t able to watch the game live or even just on TV. I had to go to bed early.

“When I saw the news that Real Madrid won, I was just so happy, because we’ve been following the team for a while now…we were just so happy for them. Then afterwards seeing that Thierry Henry was also in the stands, enjoying the tennis match, like I said, that’s one of my goals so that people can enjoy the tennis game.

Former footballer Thierry Henry attends the fourth round match between Canada’s Leylah Annie Fernandez and Amanda Anisimova of the U.S. )AI/Reuters/Panoramic)

“To see him do a standing ovation for our match is just an incredible feeling and hopefully I can reproduce that level again and we can just all enjoy our time on the tennis court.”

Fernandez: Trevisan will be tricky

She next faces Martina Trevisan, who made a run to the quarter-finals in 2020. The Canadian knows the Italian lefty will present a very different kind of challenge.

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

“I just love that players are bringing their own personality and their own culture on court. She’s Italian, so they are very passionate about their sports. I think it just brings another good entertainment for the fans. That’s what I try to do sometimes too to bring my dad’s Latino culture on court too, bring that fire. So I think it will be an interesting match from that standpoint.”

For her part, Trevisan is delighted to repeat her achievement of two years ago.

“At the beginning of this year is that I was dreaming this moment, because in myself, in my head, I see again this moment,” she said after beating Aliaksandra Sasnovich. “I thought to myself, ‘Yes, Martina, you can do again.’ I will like to live again this emotion. I mean, I’m here, so I’m really happy.”

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