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US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez eager to get back into action after Maria Sharapova pep talk

Canadian professional tennis player Leylah Fernandez, who lost in the US Open final, said on Tuesday that she has gotten advice from five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova and is eager to return to the court.

Fernandez attended New York’s annual Met Gala a day after losing to British schoolgirl Emma Raducanu in last month’s final, where she had the opportunity to talk with Sharapova.

“She gave me some pretty good advice. I’m not going to disclose anything because it’s really personal to me,” the 19-year-old told the reporters before her return to action this week at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

“She’s an amazing person. She told me her own experience and the way that she was able to bounce back and she’s just a great person, great inspiration to kind of look up to.”

In March, Fernandez won the Monterrey Open, but in New York, she improved her game significantly, defeating defending champion Naomi Osaka, three-time Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber, and world number two Aryna Sabalenka on route to the final.

Fernandez struggled with her serve in a straight sets loss to Raducanu, an 18-year-old qualifier making only her second Grand Slam appearance, but she still showed enough to suggest she may be a long-term force.

Since the US Open, Fernandez has had an increase in demand for her time, but she credits her staff for allowing her to keep focused on tennis.

“I’m very lucky to have a great team around me to just let me focus on my craft, on my tennis, and not be overwhelmed with everything that’s going right now. Honestly, I just can’t wait to be back on the tennis court competing again,” said Fernandez.

The Canadian has risen to 28th in the world rankings and is the 23rd seed at Indian Wells, where she will receive a first-round bye in the unofficial fifth Grand Slam event.

While Fernandez’s US Open success has brought her a host of additional off-court responsibilities, she admits that it has also led to some fun opportunities, such as attending the Met Gala.

“That was definitely an experience to get ready, to put on the makeup, get the hair done, putting on heels for the very first time,” said Fernandez

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