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The clay smiles back at Trevisan in Paris

Italian Martina Trevisan keeps her dream clay season alive with a win over Canadian Leylah Fernandez in the quarter-finals of Roland Garros.

Martina Trevisan, Roland Garros, Laylah Fernandez Martina Trevisan defeats Leylah Fernandez in the quarter-finals of Roland Garros 2022 (AI / Reuters / Panoramic)

There must be something in the clay for Martina Trevisan. After a three-set victory over Canadian Leylah Fernandez 6-2, 6-7 (3), 6-3, the 28-year-old Italian is through to the semi-finals at Roland Garros for the first time in her career. Trevisa’s feat marks the latest highlight in her unprecedented clay-court season this year.

Trevisan’s road to Roland-Garros

Exactly ten days before her quarter-final win against Fernandez, Trevisan was standing on Centre Court. Except this Centre Court was at Club des Cheminots in Rabat, Morocco, more than 2,250 kilometers from Paris. The world No 59 was hoisting the winner’s trophy at the WTA 250 Morocco Open, having just dismantled the formidable young American Claire Liu, 6-2, 6-1 in the championship match.

Trevisan, who entered the tournament unseeded, was nearly perfect during her week in Morocco, only dropping a single set throughout her five-match journey to the winner’s podium. Her only imperfection, a 2-6, 6-4, 6-1comeback win in the round-of-16 against world No 10 Garbiñe Muguruza, nonetheless resulted in her first top-10 victory since 2020.

Clay, specifically that on the courts of Roland Garros, seems to bring out the best in Trevisan’s game. In 2020, the then-26-year-old reached the quarterfinals of Roland-Garros in her tournament debut, notching major wins over Greek Maria Sakkari and American Coco Gauff along the way. Despite eventually falling to Poland’s Iga Świątek 6-3, 6-1, Trevisan’s distinct enthusiasm left an impact on the Parisien clay. On Tuesday, the Italian picked up right where she left off in 2020.

I like the fight, I like the adrenaline, I like the moment before I get in court

Martian Trevisan

The fight against Fernandez

Trevisan entered her quarter-final match on Phillippe-Chatrier having won 18 of her last 19 sets. Although Fernandez marked the first seeded opponent in her Roland-Garros draw, Trevisan started the match characteristically strong, breaking the teenage Canadian’s serve in the opening game of the match.

Down 3-2 in the opening set, Fernandez called for a medical trainer, signaling issues with her right foot. Despite the temporary relief, Fernandez’s foot injury would continue to bother her throughout the match. In the remainder of the first set, which Trevisan closed out 6-2, the Canadian’s unforced errors continued to rise as her footwork noticeably slowed down.

Canada’s Leylah Fernandez in action during her quarter-final match against Italy’s Martina Trevisan (AI / Reuters / Panoramic)

However, in the second set, Fernandez found her big-hitting rhythm, capitalizing on her first break point opportunity to take a 3-1 lead. Trevisan quickly responded, breaking Fernandez in the very next game, and eventually positioning herself to serve for the match, 6-2, 5-4. Despite having match point, the Italian was unable to tame Fernandez’s tenacity, losing her serve with a rare groundstroke error.

As the match progressed to a deciding set, Fernandez’s game started to unwind. The disparity of unforced errors between the two women proved a decisive element of the quarter-final, with Trevisan committing 29 unforced errors to Fernandez’s 44. Despite a late comeback down 4-0, the Canadian was unable to overcome Trevisan’s court coverage and solid groundstrokes in her injured form. A cross-court winner at 40-30 sealed Trevisan’s first-ever Roland Garros semifinal appearance 6-2, 6-7(3), 6-3.

Trevisan’s semi-final on Thursday will see a rematch of her 2020 Roland Garros victory over American Coco Gauff. The 18-year-old Gauff beat fellow American Sloane Stephens 7-5, 6-2 on Tuesday to advance to the semi-finals–an occasion that, like Trevisan, marks her first career Grand Slam semi-final appearance.

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