Paula Badosa and Leylah Fernandez battled it out in a three set thriller in the second round at the ATP Qatar Open in Doha. The service break Fernandez secured in the eighth game of the third set sealed the deal for her as she went on to serve for the match. Final score was 0-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Prior to today's match, Badosa had never lost to Fernandez in three previous meetings. Despite winds that temporarily challenged Badosa' sserve in the first set, she came out blazing hot serving up a bagel to Fernandez 6-0.
Fernandez problem-solved her way back into the match with better serving and forcing Badosa to run often in the second set. Fans were collectively concerned as Badosa occasionally touched her back which has been the injury she has been dealing with for nearly a year.
Leylah Fernandez faces another tough test in the Round of 16
Fernandez has defeated two quality players, Liudmila Samsonova and Badosa, to reach the Round of 16. Her challenges continue as she faces Australian Open finalist Qinwen Zheng in the Round of 16. Zheng had a first round bye but won a three set match against Magda Linette in her Round of 32 match.
Fernandez and Zheng last faced each other at the 2022 Monterrey Open, and it was a three set match that Fernandez won. Zheng's game has improved since their last meeting which makes this an even more interesting match to watch.
Each player is 21 years old. Though Zheng is higher-ranked at World No. 7, she has one less career title (2) than Fernandez. Fernandez is currently ranked 38th but was World No. 13 in 2022. This match, scheduled for Wednesday, will be about who keeps their nerves and unforced errors in check.