It was two years ago that Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez were contesting the US Open final. Neither have hit the same heights since, but Fernandez had positive words for Raducanu after winning the Hong Kong Open. Fernandez is hopeful they can “both compete at the highest level once again” and thinks Raducanu is “hungry” and has “something to prove”.
Leylah Fernandez believes Emma Raducanu has “something special” and will have “something to prove” when she returns to tennis.
Raducanu memorably beat Fernandez in the 2021 US Open final to cap off a dream run from qualifying.
Both Raducanu, 20, and Fernandez, 21, have struggled to hit the same heights since that meeting in New York.
Fernandez almost dropped out of the top 100 this year, while Raducanu is currently ranked No. 282 in the world and is out of action following wrist and ankle surgery.
Speaking about herself and Raducanu after winning the Hong Kong Open, Fernandez told the South China Morning Post: “Well, 2021 was a special tournament for both of us, we both did extraordinary things not many people get to experience.
“I was able to beat a couple of top-10 players, ex-champions. Emma, she came through the qualifying, so we both had to go through some difficulties, and afterwards, I think it was hard on both of us adjusting to the new life.
“But at least for me, I tried to surround myself with a great group of people. I know Emma is working hard, I know she is hungry, she has something to prove, so I’m sure she’s going to come back and play some great tennis
“Hopefully, we do see her because she is great for the sport. She has got something special for the WTA and for women’s tennis. Hopefully, we can both compete at the highest level once again side by side.”
Fernandez’s Hong Kong Open win was her second title since losing in the final of the US Open.
Raducanu is yet to lift another trophy since her maiden Grand Slam victory.
“It is extremely hard,” said Fernandez about the challenges of the last few years.
“In the past, you think that you are grounded and you are the same person, quote unquote, but the reality is we grow and we mature, and sometimes what happens to us is we don’t want to see the truth.
“I’m very happy and glad that I do have my parents and a good team around me that tell me the truth, even though I don’t like it. They help me stay grounded.
“Right now, I know what it feels like to, let’s say, not be grounded. I know what it feels like to have my head up in the clouds, to take it easy.
“But I also know what I need to do to get back on track. Now I’ve got a plan, I’m clear minded and know what I need to do. Hopefully, the results keep coming, and hopefully, the good times aren’t done, but I’m just going to enjoy my time right now.”
Now up to No. 19 in the world rankings, Fernandez is hopeful she can challenge again for a Grand Slam.
“For me, my big goal is always to win a Grand Slam every year,” she added. “It’s always going to be tough. There are a lot of great, very talented players. I’m just going to try to take it one point at a time, one tournament at a time.
“That’s the most important thing – be happy with that, and I’ll be able to execute my game as much as possible.
“The goal is to be top 10, but I think the main focus is to stay humble and grounded and to keep working. My coach – my dad – has always said that every day is a new day, and we start from zero, especially in tennis.
“So I rather keep working hard and giving my best attitude on court, and keep playing the way I’m playing.”