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Sports Home sweet home for budding tennis stars Fernandez, Auger-Aliassime

03:30  15 september  2021
03:30  15 september  2021 Source:   montrealgazette.com

Magical run opens doors for Laval ace Leylah Annie Fernandez

  Magical run opens doors for Laval ace Leylah Annie Fernandez A little more than two years ago, Jorge Fernandez was concerned about money. His 16-year-old daughter, Leylah Annie, had won the French Open junior title and was launching a professional tennis career. She was ranked outside the top 300 in the WTA rankings, which meant she was limited to events that offered little in the way of ranking points and prize money. “We’ve been working on a shoestring budget,” Jorge Fernandez told me after sitting down with Tennis Canada to discuss some financial help. “She’s going to turn pro and we’re going to need some heavy financing,” continued Fernandez.

Nice is a word often used to describe Canadians and Flair Airlines couldn’t have found two nicer ambassadors than tennis stars Leylah Annie Fernandez and Félix Auger-Aliassime.

a group of people posing for the camera: Leylah Annie Fernandez makes a joke about © Provided by The Gazette Leylah Annie Fernandez makes a joke about

The two players, fresh off successful runs at the U.S. Open in New York, flew to Montreal on the low-cost carrier Tuesday and met with the media to discuss their experiences in the Big Apple, their shared love for Canada and Montreal, and their plans for the future.

The 19-year-old Fernandez, who reached the singles final, and 21-year-old Auger-Aliassime, who advanced to the semifinals before losing to eventual champion Daniil Medvedev, were poised, confident and, well, nice as they fielded questions in French and English.

Fernandez outlasts Kerber, Auger-Aliassime powers past Tiafoe to advance at U.S Open

  Fernandez outlasts Kerber, Auger-Aliassime powers past Tiafoe to advance at U.S Open NEW YORK — A pair of young Canadian talents keep proving they have what it takes to compete in a pressure-packed tennis environment on a historic stage against big-name opponents. Teenager Leylah Fernandez continued her stellar run at the U.S. Open by advancing to the quarterfinal of the women's draw on Sunday afternoon, hours before Felix Auger-Aliassime did the same on the men's side. The 18-year-old Fernandez from Laval, Que., earned a hard-fought 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2 win over 16th-seeded German Angelique Kerber in the fourth-round match. Fernandez took control of the match in the decisive third set by twice breaking Kerber, a former world No.

While the two Canadians charmed the raucous New York crowds, Auger-Aliassime chuckled when asked about his legacy.

“This is the first time I’ve been asked about legacy at a press conference. I’m only 21,” said Auger-Aliassime. “Hopefully, after 10 years or so, I’ll have had a great career behind me and my legacy will be that I’ve inspired people not only with my game but with the person I am. With my personality, I can put smiles on faces, I can inspire, I can motivate and that is more rich than anything I can do on the tennis court.”

While they said they aren’t international stars yet, they enjoyed some of trappings of stardom when they were invited to the Met Gala Monday. The fundraiser for New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is known for its A-list attendees and outrageous fashion.

Leylah Fernandez, Félix Auger-Aliassime in Montreal after lengthy US Open runs

  Leylah Fernandez, Félix Auger-Aliassime in Montreal after lengthy US Open runs MONTREAL — Fresh off their attention-grabbing runs at the US Open, Canadian tennis stars Leylah Fernandez and Félix Auger-Aliassime were all smiles Tuesday as they discussed their background as Montrealers and the impact they wish to have on future generations. "I would like to see that I’ve inspired people and not only with my game, but with the person that I am. For me, that’s even richer than anything else I can do on the tennis court,""I would like to see that I’ve inspired people and not only with my game, but with the person that I am. For me, that’s even richer than anything else I can do on the tennis court," Auger-Aliassime said.

a woman sitting on a bench:  Leylah Fernandez attends The 2021 Met Gala Celebrating In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion at Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021, in New York City. © Theo Wargo Leylah Fernandez attends The 2021 Met Gala Celebrating In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion at Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021, in New York City.

Fernandez honoured sisters Serena and Venus Williams by wearing a simple black and white cocktail dress designed by Venezuelan-American Carolina Herrera. The Williams sisters wore the same design for a 1998 Annie Leibovitz photo shoot for Vogue.

Fernandez said she talked to U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe, but she was “too chicken” to approach Riverdale star Lili Reinhart. As for Auger-Aliassime, who also wore a black and white ensemble, he was thrilled to be in the same room as NBA stars Steph Curry and Russell Westbrook.

Fernandez has trained in Florida since she was 14 and Auger-Aliassime has a pad in Monte Carlo, but both said they consider Montreal as home and talked about the opportunities Canada provided for their immigrant parents. Auger-Aliassime’s father is from Togo, while Fernandez’s father is from Ecuador and her maternal grandparents are from the Philippines.

Canada's Auger-Aliassime, Fernandez into second round at U.S. Open

  Canada's Auger-Aliassime, Fernandez into second round at U.S. Open NEW YORK — Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime and Leylah Fernandez have advanced to the second round of the U.S. Open. Montreal's Auger-Aliassime, seeded 12th in the men's draw, won three tiebreaks in a 7-6 (0), 3-6, 7-6 (1), 7-6 (8) win over Russia's Evgeny Donskoy on Monday. Earlier, Fernandez, from Laval, Que., moved on with a 7-6 (3), 6-2 win over on Croatia's Ana Konjuh. Auger-Aliassime was down 8-7 in the tiebreak with Donskoy serving, but the 21-year-old Montrealer shifted momentum in the set with a pair receiving points. Auger-Aliassime completed the four-hour marathon by converting his first match point chance when Donskoy missed on a backhand.

“Canada opened its doors to my grandparents and my dad and it was a struggle, but it gave us the opportunity to give us the life we wanted and it made it easier for me personally to keep going for my dreams,” said Fernandez.

a man and a woman posing for a picture:  Félix Auger-Aliassime and guest attend The 2021 Met Gala Celebrating In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion at Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021, in New York City. © Theo Wargo Félix Auger-Aliassime and guest attend The 2021 Met Gala Celebrating In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion at Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021, in New York City.

The association with the low-cost airline is a natural fit because both players noted the bargain fares would have come in handy earlier in their careers when money was tight.

That’s not the case for either player today. Auger-Aliassime has earned more than US$5 million and has several endorsement deals, including a multimillion-dollar contract with Adidas. After eliminating three of the top five seeds en route to the U.S. Open final, Fernandez earned US$1.25 million, which pushed her over US$2 million in career earnings.

Both players will spend a week in Montreal, visiting friends and family before returning to work. Next up for Auger-Aliassime is the Laver Cup next week in Boston, where he will join compatriot Denis Shapovalov on Team World. He and Fernandez will then head to California for the pandemic-delayed Indian Wells Masters event in early October.

phickey@postmedia.com

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Related

Montreal's Auger-Aliassime makes it into U.S. Open quarter-finals .
Félix Auger-Aliassime advanced to the quarter-finals of the U.S. Open on Sunday night by defeating American Frances Tiafoe. Auger-Aliassime dropped the first set 6-4, but won the next three 6-2, 7-6, 6-4. He beat Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3, firing 27 aces and 76 winners past the Spaniard on Friday. Auger-Aliassime will face Carlos Alcaraz, who became the youngest player in the Open era to reach the quarter-finals of the men’s tournament at Flushing Meadows after the 18-year-old Spaniard beat Germany’s Peter Gojowczyk 5-7, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 6-0 on Sunday.

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