Tuesday, Sep 14, 2021. 12:01 PM
(Update : Tuesday, Sep 14, 2021. 1:17 PM)
MONTREAL – The last United States Tennis Open was quite a springboard for Leylah Annie Fernandez and Félix Auger-Aliassime.
Fernandez, just 19, reached the final, where she lost to Britain’s Emma Raducanu. This first appearance in a final of a major tournament propelled her 45 places in the WTA standings, to 28th place.
“I have worked so hard and made huge sacrifices to get to where I am today,” said the Montrealer from the warehouses of Flair Airlines, a low-cost carrier of which she became co-ambassador along with Auger. -Aliassime.
“It’s an incredible journey,” she continued. To see all the sacrifices I made, the difficulties we had traveling, like in Israel, where we didn’t know if we were going to be able to book a hotel. (…) I almost cried during the press conference (in New York) when I heard my father’s interview. These are memories I wanted to forget; it motivates me even more to continue to give back to my family. “
If the bonda was less spectacular for Auger-Aliassime, who gained four places to become the best ranked Canadian in the 11th level of the ATP, the last fortnight allowed him to get closer to the ambitious goals he had set himself in beginning of the year.
Félix and Leylah look back on their great performances
“After the last Grand Slam of the year, where I collected a lot of points with a semi-final, I put myself in a good position for the Masters at the end of the year and to finish the season in the top- 10. (…) It is both very motivating and very positive. To be 11th now with the few months remaining in the year, it’s a great position. I had these big ambitions: I’m at the door, but there is still a lot to do. “
For the 21-year-old tennis player, this semi-final, where he lost to eventual winner Daniil Medvedev, will help boost his level of confidence.
“It’s a good stage for my confidence, in a season where there were very good performances, but also lows. To have been able to end the summer this way in New York is very good. I would say I feel closer to my ultimate goal of winning a Grand Slam tournament and being among the best in the world. “
He wouldn’t have said the same after coming out of the Tokyo Olympics, where he was knocked out in the first round.
“I had to bounce back. I did not hide that it was a big disappointment in Tokyo and the following weeks too, he said. Not so much by my game, but by the fatigue felt: the year is long.
“It was an apprenticeship to play the Olympics after a long trip. Then we had to return to America and play other tournaments. It was all new to me: in the next few years, I will be able to handle it better. I felt tired, whether in Tokyo or Washington on the way back. I had to refocus to end the summer well. It is true that these defeats motivated me for the continuation of things. But I do not regret anything: I had a magnificent experience at the Games. I learned a lot there. “
Dad still in the line
If she admits to experiencing a great whirlwind of emotions, Fernandez intends not to change anything in her activities or those around her during the coming weeks.
Thus, she will not change the schedule established before her superb performance at Flushing Meadows. Above all, she does not intend to change coach, her father Jorge.
“My father will always be there,” she assured. He is always open to adding new members to the team. I am very happy to have him as a father and a coach. He’s been there from the very beginning, he knows when it’s time to take a break or bring in someone new to the team. I trust his decisions 100%, It is the best way to judge success on the whole. He will be part of the team for a very long time.
“(For the rest of the season), that won’t change anything: we had already planned to play Indian Wells only; the plan will not change. I’m going to go home to practice before going to California to play this tournament. Next year, we’ll see what I’ll do with this new ranking.
“I don’t have a specific goal, but the most important thing for me is to arrive well focused, physically, mentally and emotionally ready to play big games. I want to end the year healthy. “
She knows that the expectations of her will now be higher. It ensures that it can manage.
“I’m lucky to have a good team that motivates me, that tells me that I did well in the last tournament, but that the next one will be even more difficult, now that the players know me. We have to work harder now, because the first round will be more difficult. ”
“It was indescribable to follow Leylah and Félix”