By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
Leylah Fernandez guns for a quarterfinal berth at the Indian Wells when she clashes with unseeded American Shelby Rogers Tuesday (early Wednesday in Manila),
The 19-year-old Canadian of Filipino descent is coming off a morale-boosting 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 third-round victory over Russian ninth seed and 2021 French Open finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
After earning an opening-round bye, Fernandez swept French veteran Alize Cornet, 6-2, 6-3, before surviving Pavlyuchenkova.
This marks the second time that Fernandez and Rogers will be meeting each other, with their last matchup happening in the Round-of-16 of the 2020 Lexington event. Rogers won that match, 6-2, 7-5.
But a lot has happened since their last duel particularly on Fernandez, who rose to fame after a surprise finals appearance at the 2021 US Open against eventual winner Emma Raducanu of Great Britain.
Fernandez, whose Filipino grandparents are Canadian immigrants, hopes to continue that impressive run.
Against Rogers, Fernandez boasts of a higher ranking at No. 28 against No. 44 to her rival.
She was beaten by Raducanu in the Round-of-16 at the 2021 US Open but not after stunning world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty in the third round.
So far, Rogers has never dropped a set in her matches, winning over Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina, 7-6 (2), 6-2, in the opening round; Slovak Republic’s Kristina Kucova, 6-2, 6-2, in the second; and Romania’s Irina-Camela Begu, 6-0, 6-2, in the third.
Meanwhile, Fernandez also aims for a doubles title with American Coco Gauff when they collide with second seed Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the United States and Belgium’s Elise Mertens.
Fernandez and Gauff are fresh from a 6-3, 6-2 victory over fifth seed Nicole Melichar-Martinez of the United States and Netherlands’ Demi Schuurs, 6-3, 6-2, while Hsieh and Mertens bested American Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Polish Iga Swiatek, 1-6, 6-4, 10-8.