Canada’s Leylah Annie Fernandez defeated 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens 6-3, 6-1 in the first round of the Grampians Trophy on Wednesday.
The 18-year-old Fernandez, from Laval, Que., won 70.6 per cent of her points when she got her first serve in, well above the American’s 44.4 per-cent mark.
Fernandez, ranked 89th in the world, saved five of seven break points versus the world No. 40.
The Canadian will face No. 5 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece in the second round of the Australian Open tune-up.
Meanwhile, Ottawa’s Gabriela Dabrowski was ousted in consecutive sets by Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine
The 18-year-old Kostyuk, No. 78 in the world rankings, took the first-round matchup in Melbourne 6-0, 6-3 in just 57 minutes.
The 28-year-old Dabrowski, No. 493 in the world, was competing in a rare women’s singles match tournament for players coming out of hard quarantine following COVID-19 exposure on charter flights to Australia.
She last played a singles event Sept. 14 in Rome, falling in qualifying at the Italian Open.
Dabrowski — No. 10 in the world doubles rankings — has nine doubles titles in her career, including the 2018 Australian Open mixed crown alongside Mate Pavic of Croatia.
Top Canadian Bianca Andreescu was anticipated to return to the court at this week’s tournament, but withdrew on Tuesday and will instead return to action at the Australian Open.
The Australian Open is arranged to start Feb. 8.