Leylah Fernandez’s struggles on show in Miami but she has grit to rise again

Like Emma Raducanu, the Canadian has found it difficult after her breakout 2021 but the skills and fighting spirit are still there

Within a few games of Leylah Fernandez’s second-round match against Belinda Bencic at the Miami Open on Friday, defeat already seemed inevitable. As Bencic squeezed up to the baseline, suffocating the young Canadian with her early ball-striking and sharp redirections, Fernandez could not keep up. She tried to hold her own position inside the baseline, but was easily pushed back. When she assumed more risk, forcing the ball closer to the lines, her errors piled up. After 67 minutes, the 20-year-old was thoroughly beaten 6-1, 6-1.

Eighteen months on from her unforgettable run to the 2021 US Open final, Fernandez faces plenty of her own struggles as she tries to follow up her breakout performance. In New York, she showed off the full breadth of her talent. Despite standing 5ft 6in, she smote opponents with the combined force of her vicious lefty forehand, unfailingly aggressive returning, movement that allowed her to quickly flip defence to attack and her crafty resourcefulness.

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