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Fernandez Reaches First Semifinal of the Year at Eastbourne

Leylah Fernandez of Canada reached her first semifinal of the season at the Rothesay International in Eastbourne, defeating Harriet Dart 6-2, 6-1 in the quarterfinals on Thursday. Fernandez has been in fine form throughout the tournament, dropping just one set, which came in a hard-fought victory over Barbora Krejcikova in the first round.

This marks Fernandez’s maiden Hologic WTA Tour semifinal on grass and her first on any surface since last autumn in Nanchang. Despite her young age of 21, she has demonstrated consistency during the brief grass season, having reached the quarterfinals in Birmingham last week.

Reflecting on her enjoyment of playing on grass, Fernandez shared, “It’s such a short season that you want to enjoy it as much as possible. When we were kids, playing on grass was the first thing we did. I remember when I was 8 or 9 years old, I always said I wish I could play on grass, just hit a tennis ball there. Now is my opportunity, so I’m taking joy in that.”

Next, Fernandez awaits either defending champion Madison Keys or 2023 French Open finalist Karolina Muchova in her quest for a spot in the final. She aims to secure her first title since the 2023 Hong Kong Open and her fourth overall.

Despite not possessing the typical power game often favored on grass, Fernandez has adapted her skills effectively. “I’m not the biggest nor the strongest out there on tour,” she explained, “but with proper footwork and a solid base, I can direct the ball where I want it.”

Grass courts also allow Fernandez to play with instinct, reminiscent of her impressive run to the 2021 US Open final. “On grass, you have to keep it simple,” she noted. “Move quickly, hit the ball early, and keep it in play. My coach reminds me to simplify things, and so far, it’s been effective.”

Fernandez’s performance underscores her growing prowess on grass, setting the stage for an exciting semifinal clash and potentially more milestones in her promising career.

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