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Sport

Teenage sensation Fernandez gears up for Kvitova challenge

(Reuters) - Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez, the youngest woman left in the French Open draw, will look to continue her fairytale run on the Parisian clay when she takes on two-times Grand Slam champion Petra Kvitova in the third round on Saturday.

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Fernandez is enjoying a breakout season having qualified for her first Grand Slam main draw at the Australian Open and turned heads when she scored an upset win over then world number five Belinda Bencic in Canada’s Fed Cup tie against Switzerland.

The 18-year-old continued her impressive run in Acapulco, Mexico in February, when she came through qualifiers to reach her first WTA final.

Fernandez, the 2019 French Open junior champion, has displayed poise and maturity beyond her years on her return to Paris, defeating 31st seed Magda Linette and Polona Hercog to underline her position as one of the biggest talents on the WTA circuit.

Fernandez was full of admiration for twice Wimbledon winner Kvitova, who is bidding to reach the fourth round at Roland Garros for the first time since 2015.

“It won’t be an easy match,” world number 100 Fernandez told reporters. “She’s a great player, won a few Grand Slams and went through some difficult times and still bounced back to being in the top 10.

“I remember since I started playing tennis, watching her winning the Wimbledon championship, the way she played was really inspiring.”

In other matches on Saturday, Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin will meet Romanian Irina Bara and 2016 French Open winner Garbine Muguruza takes on American Danielle Collins.

Among the men, world number one Novak Djokovic will continue his charge towards an 18th Grand Slam honour when he meets Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan.

Fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas is also in action and will be targeting a fourth round berth in Paris for a second consecutive year when he meets Slovenian Aljaz Bedene.

Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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