PARIS † If Leylah Fernandez has made it to the quarters in the grand scheme of things at Roland-Garros, another Quebecer can boast the same feat, this time with girls.
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At the age of 18, in the twilight of her junior career, Annabelle Xu qualified for this stage of a major tournament for the first time on Wednesday.
On lane 7, where Félix won her second round a week ago, the young Montrealer proved unmanageable against Norway’s Johanne Christine Svendsen, who won 6-3, 6-3.
The day before, she had already beaten the third favorite of the junior draw, Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva, a player from Andorra.e worldwide among professionals.
And in the first round, Xu needed the third set tiebreaker to beat a homegrown player Astrid Lew Yan Foon.
No wonder, then, that the first thing they come to the… Log Wednesday in an interview either: “I’m really tired!”.
Tired, but also happy to perform well in Paris, a city that this fashion lover loves. “Last year things went less well at Roland-Garros,” said Xu. I had lost in the second round so I had time to visit. But there it is,’ she said with a grin.
The last chance ?
In the Porte d’Auteuil, Xu may use her first chance to deal a blow to the girls. At this track, at the beginning of the year, he held the best rank of his career, 30e† The young player is now 37e†
The rankings do not say everything for the juniors, the athletes do not all play tournaments with the same regularity.
As a testament to her good progress in recent months, Annabelle instead points to her recent clay-court final in Brazil.
A final and a quarterfinal on ocher. She must love this surface, young Quebecer? “Actually, I think she’s the one who loves me!” I prefer the tough ones,” she laughs.
Still, Xu has skills that allow him to perform well on clay. “My strength is that I am aggressive, but above all that I always try to bring the ball back into play, always hit another one.”
She’s already set to attend Virginia University in the fall, an institution, she points out, on a highly-rated “school and academic side.”
A path popular with more and more players, the 5’9″ athlete admits, pointing out that the university she’s set her sights on is the same where American Danielle Collins, today’s ninth in the world, evolved.
“Of course all girls want to go to the pros, but my parents and I have always prioritized a good education,” explains Xu. Because there is life after tennis. For the pros, that’s definitely still my goal, but we’ll see my progress. †
Meanwhile, she likes to be by their side in Paris. Because the Grand Slams are the only opportunity for juniors to meet professionals.
“I like Majors,” Xu said. It’s more serious. Not all players want to make a career in the juniors. So in the other tournaments some go out at night, others don’t warm up. †
Novak and Felix
Among his favorites in the grand scheme of things is Serbian and world No. 1 Novak Djokovic. “He’s my favorite so it’s always a bonus to see him. I’ve always loved his game, his spirit. He never gives up.”
She also met him a few times, but every time “he was busy” and she couldn’t speak to him, she regrets.
Xu also cites Leylah, Félix and Bianca Andreescu as his role models.
“Félix is a very nice person, very down to earth. Every time we see each other, he talks to me. When he comes to Montreal, he is always interested in the progress of the juniors,” she emphasizes.
Annabelle Xu will take on the ninth seed Czech Lucie Havlickova in the quarterfinals on Thursday at 5 a.m.