Canada’s Leylah Annie Fernandez beat No. 16 seed Zhang Shuai of China 6-3, 6-1 in the opening round of the Volvo Car Open on Tuesday.
The 18-year-old Fernandez, from Laval, Que, saved four of five break points, while Shuai was one-for-six in the same category.
It was the first match of the clay-court season for Fernandez, who was ousted in qualifying for the recently completed Miami Open one day after winning her first career WTA Tour event in Mexico last month.
Fernandez, ranked 72nd in the world, will next face world No. 91 Danka Kovinic of Montenegro at the WTA 500 event.
Shuai, ranked 41st, has lost all three matches she has played in 2021.
World No. 1 Ash Barty of Australia headlines the field this week after capturing the Miami title.
Fernandez leads Canada for Billie Jean King Cup
Canada won’t have two of its top three singles players for a Billie Jean King Cup playoff against host Serbia later this month.
World No. 6 Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Ont., and No. 120 Eugenie Bouchard of Westmount, Que., are not in the lineup.
Andreescu hurt her foot in the Miami Open final last Saturday, while Bouchard hasn’t played since March 16.
Fernandez is the top-ranked player on the roster for the April 16-17 hard-court tie.
She is joined by Vancouver’s Rebecca Marino and Toronto’s Sharon Fichman and Carol Zhao.
Serbia has one player in the top 100 of the singles rankings — No. 85 Nina Stojanovic.
The Billie Jean King Cup is the new name for the Fed Cup.
The winner of the Canada-Serbia tie will play in the qualifiers next year for a chance to reach the 2022 finals. The loser drops into a regional group.
© 2021 The Canadian Press