Who can stop Leylah Fernandez right now? Another victory – this time 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 over No. 9 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova – at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells ensured the 19-year-old phenom’s place in the round of 16 and improved her record to 8-1 since the start of her magical US Open run.
Coming into their third-round match, Fernandez had beaten France’s Alize Cornet 6-2, 6-3 in the second round while Pavlyuchenkova overcame the United States’ Madison Keys just as handily by a 6-3, 6-1 score line. This meeting in the California desert was the first of their careers.
The first set was fairly even until, with the score at 3-3, Fernandez and Pavlyuchenkova exchanged five consecutive breaks between them. Unfortunately, the decisive drop of serve came from the Canadian as her opponent hit a spectacular backhand passing shot down the line on break point before holding serve to claim the first set 7-5.
Onto the second set, where Pavlyuchenkova made the perfect start by breaking Fernandez at the first time of asking. The Canadian fought back well, however, and broke the Russian twice to claim the set 6-3. It was a similar story in the third, though this time the 19-year-old needed just one break and nerves of steel to hold her own serve to seal the victory.
Earlier, over on Court 3, No. 7 seed Félix Auger-Aliassime faced Albert Ramos-Vinolas in his opening match of the tournament having received a first-round bye. The Montrealer, whose most-recent appearance came in a group-stage loss to Italy’s Matteo Berrettini at the Laver Cup in Boston, was facing the Spaniard for the third time in his career having won both of their previous encounters in straight sets – in Sao Paulo and Beijing, both 2019, respectively.
Unfortunately for the Canadian, it proved third time lucky for his opponent as Ramos-Vinolas, who had overcome Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti in the first round, played the better tennis to claim a 6-4, 6-2 victory. Winning 83% of his first serve points to just 58% for Auger-Aliassime, Ramos-Vinolas claimed two breaks in the opening set and two in the second to seal his triumph and a place in the third round, where he will face No. 29 seed Nikoloz Basilashvili.
In doubles, Canadians Sharon Fichman and Gabriela Dabrowski, partnered by Giuliana Olmos and Hayley Carter respectively, were beaten in the round of 16. No. 8 seeds Fichman and Olmos, who defeated Anett Kontaveit and Daria Kasatkina in their first-round match, fell 6-4, 6-2 to Sabrina Santamaria and Makoto Ninomiya on Court 4.
Later that night, No. 6 seeds Dabrowski and Carter faced Jelena Ostapenko and Lyudmyla Kichenok. The Canadian and American had breezed past Kaitlyn Christian and Erin Routliffe 6-4, 6-4 in their first-round clash, but were unable to solve their second-round opponents as they fell to a 6-4, 6-2 loss on Court 3.