Leylah Fernandez’s Father, Who is Also Her Coach, Watches the Final from Home

During a tough monetary interval for Leylah Fernandez’s household, her mother and father took jewellery and watches to a Montreal pawnshop to assist finance tennis coaching and journey for her and her youthful sister, Bianca. It was not simple, nevertheless it was accomplished with out hesitation.

“When you are asking your children to work hard and sacrifice, you have to show that you are willing to do the same thing,” Leylah’s father, Jorge Fernandez, mentioned in a phone interview on Wednesday. “We sold our house, I sold my business. These are the things you do to help your children reach their dreams.”

A former journeyman soccer participant, who discovered tennis by studying and watching movies, Fernandez’s father has coached her since she was a schoolgirl. Although he by no means performed tennis, he mentioned he understands sports activities and describes himself as a troublesome, old school taskmaster.

“I believe in the grind,” he mentioned at a information convention Friday. “I believe in the hard work. I believe in the suffering. If we do that enough, then we get really, really strong.”

Fernandez mentioned that regardless of the diligence and sacrifice he had demanded of his daughters, Leylah, 19, insisted that he proceed to educate her, although he mentioned he would like that another person take over. For now, he retains the job, and although he is not at the U.S. Open, he nonetheless serves as Leylah and Bianca’s technical, strategic and motivational adviser.

The night time earlier than Leylah’s matches, they focus on ways on the cellphone. The morning of the match they’ve one other name to go over the specifics of her day, together with the timing of meals and transportation, how and when she’s going to prepare and heat up. Then proper earlier than the match, they converse on the cellphone one final time.

“That’s kind of like the father-daughter talk,” he mentioned, and added, “A virtual hug and a kiss.”

That dialog usually facilities on sentiment and emotion, relying on what Fernandez senses from his daughter. He may inform her simply to have enjoyable on courtroom — which is what he mentioned proper earlier than she beat the third-seeded Naomi Osaka.

Sometimes, if he senses nerves from his daughter, or worry of the second, he brings it up, he mentioned, in order that she will be able to face the jitters and work by means of them.

“I know we say she’s just unbelievable with her mind-set right now,” he mentioned. “She shows so much fight. But she is human, and she does feel those emotions.”

Before she takes the courtroom towards the 18-year-old Raducanu, Jorge Fernandez plans to encourage his daughter by acknowledging what is at stake in a Grand Slam remaining.

“Let’s leave it all on the table,” he mentioned. “Let’s sweat it all out. Let’s make sure that no matter how it finishes, there are no regrets.”

Early in the event, when Fernandez beat Osaka after which the 16th-seeded Angelique Kerber — then No. 5 Elina Svitolina and No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka — many assumed that her health coach, Duglas Cordero, who was sitting subsequent to her mom, was her father.

But Jorge Fernandez has remained at house in Florida all through the event to take care of Bianca — the household moved to Florida a number of years in the past in order that Leylah may prepare all yr on inexpensive public courts. Fernandez calls himself the “king of the public courts.”

Eventually, as Fernandez superior by means of the girls’s draw, Bianca flew to New York to affix the enjoyable. But Jorge Fernandez didn’t journey for one necessary purpose: He and his daughter are “extremely superstitious,” he mentioned.

“Look,” he added, “I’ve been using the same shampoo on game day, kind of using the same jeans on game day, I think the same socks and underwear. It’s taken to a completely different level.”

Both father and daughter agree that there is no purpose to mess with success. So he’ll watch the remaining from house, with the proper pair of denims, the proper socks and underwear, and the proper shampoo in his hair. His daughter has already been assured $1.25 million, and will take house $2.5 million if she wins. Perhaps they’ll purchase again the watches and jewellery they pawned so a few years in the past.