FIL-CANADIAN Leylah Fernandez kissing her trophy. — ABIERTO GNP SEGUROS

By John Bryan Ulanday

LEYLAH Fernandez carved out a thrilling 6-7, 6-4, 7-6 (3) finale victory over Camila Osorio of Colombia to retain her title in the Abierto GNP Seguros in Monterrey, Mexico on Monday.

The Filipina-Canadian flipped a 1-4 deficit including five championship points (5-6) in the rubber to cap off a dramatic escape act for her second straight Monterrey crown.

As the No. 2 seed and reigning champion, Ms. Fernandez loomed as heavy favorite against the fifth-seeded Colombian but needed all the stops down the stretch highlighted by four aces to atone her first-set meltdown.

The 19-year-old wunderkind, who made a historic finals appearance in the 2021 US Open, zoomed to a 4-1 lead in the opening salvo only to surrender a 6-7 defeat with only two games won since.

She took command with a similar score in the next set but Osorio clawed back to zero in on at 4-5 before Ms. Fernandez closed it out to forge a decider, where she unleashed a comeback of her own.

“I’m very happy to have gone through these hard moments and have fought and found solutions. I hope we have many more finals with Camila because without her, I don’t think this tournament final would be as special,” said Ms. Fernandez in the grueling duel that lasted almost three hours.

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) No. 21 Fernandez last year cruised to an easy 6-1, 6-4 win against Viktoria Golubic of Switzerland.

But this time was not a walk in the park as she also met strong resistance from Chinese standouts Qiang Wang and Qinwen Zheng as well as Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia on her way to the Last Dance.

The WTA No. 44 Osorio, for her part, just could not get the job done despite riding on a massive upset win against No. 1 seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine in the quarterfinals.