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October 1, 2020

Leylah Fernendez

Paris, France

Press Conference


6-4, 3-6, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How have you changed as a player and as a person since you won the juniors here last year?

LEYLAH FERNANDEZ: Well, I don't think I've changed much. I'm still as energetic and as polite, nice as always. Still, like, a pretty young kid trying to make it as a professional.

I'm just happy to be here. It's a big tournament, an honor to be back in a professional circuit, playing in a Grand Slam. Happy to get the win to the third round.

Q. What do you like most about the way you've played through the two rounds?

LEYLAH FERNANDEZ: It's mostly my fight and hard work. These two players are great players, Magda and Polona. Both top-50 players for a reason. It wasn't going to be easy. I'm happy to get that one ball back in, you know, fight through the end.

Q. You mentioned in your previous match about the positive vibes you get playing at Roland Garros. What is it about playing in Paris that appeals to you so much?

LEYLAH FERNANDEZ: I honestly don't know. Two years ago, yeah, I was here for the first time. It was my first Grand Slam in the juniors. Like I said, I think in the past my heart was just beating as if I was kind of meant to be here. I was happy to be playing on the clay courts, be playing on these spectacular courts where legends played in. I was just excited.

Today, too, I felt the same vibes, same emotions. Like I said, I just tried to use it as best as I can to get the win.

Q. As someone who has played so many matches and traveled around the world so much, I'm sure traveling has changed for you. How has flying changed for you during this difficult time? Are you doing anything to take extra precautions to protect yourself and team?

LEYLAH FERNANDEZ: Yes, of course. Flying is a little bit difficult. You always get that nervous feeling for the first time when you get to a tournament, do the test. You hope that nobody in the airport is infected or has the COVID.

But we're trying to do as best as we can, stay away from people, sanitize our hands as much as we can, sanitize our seats. Even in the tournament we're doing the same things. We're just trying to stay away from people, being six feet apart, sanitize as much as we can. We hope the tests come out negative.

Q. It's been noticeable, as far as back as Acapulco, the decision making and shot selection on court is quite advanced for an 18, 17-year-old player. In terms of the development of that side of your game, the tactics, understanding in point what to do, how do you think that has developed for you over your career? What has been the key there?

LEYLAH FERNANDEZ: It honestly started from a very young age. I think when I first started playing soccer, I was watching soccer with my dad, and he would always make me see the openings, not only follow the ball or follow the player who has the ball, but see the open spots, see the other players, how they're moving.

I guess that kind of transferred in tennis, too. We're always trying to see how the player's moving, the open angles, the open court, not only the tennis ball, where it is, where it's landing.

I think that's helped a lot, like, just playing different sports. How my dad has taught me from a young age in tennis, it's helped a lot, it's helping now. Hopefully it keeps going.

Q. You've proved the transition from juniors hasn't been difficult for you. Are there a few things that you felt you needed to get up to speed with facing a lot of these top players?

LEYLAH FERNANDEZ: It's honestly really difficult transitioning from juniors to professionals. Coco makes it seem like it's easy, but it's hard. You got to get used to the pace, to the heaviness of the ball. Juniors is still fast and still heavy, but it's not the same as the pros.

I just got to keep grinding from the 25Ks all the way to the WTA internationals, finding solutions, keep working hard, trying to perfect my tennis style, my game, as much as I can. Hopefully the results will be there. Up to now it has. I'm just hoping it will keep going that way.

Q. Can you just talk about playing Petra. As a younger player, what are your first memories of seeing her play, your thoughts about her as a player and person?

LEYLAH FERNANDEZ: First of all, won't be an easy match. She's a great player. She won a few Grand Slams. She went through some difficult times, still bounced back to being in the top 10, the top of the WTA. Tomorrow, whenever I play, won't be easy.

I remember, like, since I started playing tennis watching her winning the Wimbledon championship. The way she played was really inspiring. Then watching her play and grinding through, like I said, those difficult moments in Grand Slams, tournaments, the way she conducts herself off the court. She's very professional.

I'm excited. I can't wait to play.

Q. About being in Paris, it's not the same this year. Do you still get joy out of being in such a wonderful city?

LEYLAH FERNANDEZ: Yes, it's very different right now. First of all, the conditions aren't easy. There's a lot of wind, there's rain. Sometimes there's delays.

But I'm happy to be in Paris. On the way back from Roland Garros all the way to the hotel, I'm lucky enough to be able to see the Eiffel Tower. At least I'm able to do sightseeing a little bit.

But I'm here to do a job, to get through matches, hopefully getting to the second week of the tournament. I'm just focused on my tennis. When I'm back at the hotel, I'm just focusing on my schoolwork as much as I can.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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