Leylah Fernandez eager to return to action after Sharapova pep talk

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Canada’s Leyla Fernandez, who lost her US Open final, said on Tuesday that she has received advice from five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova and can’t wait to get back on the court.

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A day after falling to British teenager Emma Radukanu in last month’s final, Fernandez attended New York’s annual Met Gala where she had a chance to speak with Sharapova.

“He gave me some good advice,” 19-year-old Fernandez told reporters ahead of his return to competition this week at Indian Wells for the BNP Paribas Open. “I don’t want to disclose it because it’s very personal to me.

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“She’s an amazing person. She told me her own experience and the way she was able to bounce back and she’s just a great person, great inspiration for creating such looks.”

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Fernandez won the Monterey Open in March, but improved her game significantly in New York, where she defeated defending champion Naomi Osaka, three-time Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber and world number 2 Aryna Sabalenka in the final.

Against Radukanu, an 18-year-old qualifier who made only his second Grand Slam appearance, Fernandez struggled with his serve during a straight-sets defeat, but he still showed enough to suggest he could be a lasting force. can.

Fernandez has faced an increase in the demands of his time since the US Open, but he credits his team for allowing him to focus on tennis.

“I’m very lucky to have a great team that lets me focus on my craft, on my tennis, and not get overwhelmed by what’s going on right now,” Fernandez said.

“To be honest, I can’t wait to be back on the tennis court to compete again.”

The Canadian has moved up to 28th in the rankings and is seeded 23rd at Indian Wells, where he will receive a first-round bye in an event widely regarded as the unofficial fifth Grand Slam.

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While Fernandez’s US Open run has resulted in a number of new off-court obligations, she admits it has also opened the door to fun opportunities, including attending the Met Gala.

“It was definitely a first-time experience to get ready, put on makeup, fix hair, put on heels,” Fernandez said.

“At first it was a little difficult to walk. The only thing on my mind to go up the stairs at the Met was ‘Don’t fall down. Just walk one foot in front of the other.'”

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