Leylah Fernandez saved four match points in the second set Saturday evening at the BNP Paribas Open and went on to win her match against Amanda Anisimova, 2-6, 7-6(0), ret. on a walkover after Anisimova retired before the start of what would have been a third set.
The way Fernandez survived the match was reminiscent of Rafael Nadal, who earlier in the day somehow came back from down two breaks to win his match at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
“Tell us, Rafa, I mean Leylah,” the stadium announcer said to Fernandez after her match.
“Stop it,” Fernandez said with a laugh. “You’re making me blush.”
Fernandez, 19, has now saved nine match points over her last two matches. Fernandez outlasted Camila Osorio in the Abierto GNP Seguros final in Monterrey, Mexico, on March 6.
She'll play American Shelby Rogers on Monday. Rogers upset 10th-seeded Jelena Ostapenko on Saturday.
The Canadian looked out of sync for much of Saturday’s match in Stadium 2. In front of a crowd of more than 5,000, the 20-year-old American went up two breaks to take a 3-0 lead and dominated the first set.
Though Fernandez erased one of those breaks by winning the next game, Anisimova’s powerful groundstrokes kept Fernandez on the move and Anisimova cruised to a 6-2 first set win.
For the majority of the match, it was Anisimova in control. It appeared she would have her third top-25 win of the year, including the two against Naomi Osaka and Belinda Bencic at the Australian Open in January.
But the final half of the second set was about as bizarre as it gets in tennis. With Anisimova leading 5-4 and up 40-0, Fernandez seemed to flip a switch and will herself to win the set, saving one match point after another. It was a dominating stretch for the 2021 U.S. Open finalist.
"The best advice I can give anyone in these moments is, 'Don't miss,'" Fernandez said. "Enjoy the moment, enjoy the fight, because this is once in a lifetime. You're down, you're still in it, you've just got to find the solutions, and I'm just glad the solutions came in the right time."
After the set ended with Fernandez winning a tiebreaker 7-0, Anisimova was visibly emotional and approached the chair umpire to say that she was ill and retiring from the match.
The match came a day after it was reported that Anisimova’s coach, Darren Cahill, had ended their partnership this week in Indian Wells. It was reported that Cahill could not commit to the World Tour demands, and that his decision had nothing to do with Anisimova.
Though Anisimova had a decent portion of the crowd in her favor, Fernandez seemed to have a strong amount of support as well. She said it played a role in what could be a small moment in a match that ignites a run here at Indian Wells.
"It means the world to me," Fernandez said. "For everybody that's here in the stadium, coming to cheer both of us on means the world. That's the reason I play tennis, just to feel that emotion, that adrenaline. ... and put on a good show."
Andrew John covers sports for The Desert Sun and the USA Today Network. Email him at email@example.com and find him on Twitter at @Andrew_L_John.
This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: BNP Paribas Open: Leylah Fernandez beats Amanda Anisimova in bizarre ending at Indian Wells