PARIS | If Leylah Fernandez reached the quarters in the big picture at Roland-Garros, another Quebecer can boast of the same feat of arms, this time among girls.

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At 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 court 7, where Félix won her second round a week ago, the young Montrealer proved intractable against Norwegian Johanne Christine Svendsen, winning 6-3 and 6-3.

The day before, she had beaten the third favorite of the junior table, Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva, a player from Andorra already 156th in the world among professionals.

And in the first round, it took Xu the third-set tiebreaker to defeat a homegrown player, Astrid Lew Yan Foon.

No wonder, therefore, that the first thing she said to the Journal on Wednesday in an interview was: “I am really tired! “.

Tired, but also delighted to perform well in Paris, a city that this fashion enthusiast 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’s fine, ”she said, smirking.

The last chance ?

At the Porte d’Auteuil, Xu may be taking advantage of his first opportunity to strike a blow among the girls. On this circuit, at the start of the year, she occupied the best rank of her career, 30th. The young player is now 37th.

The rankings do not mean everything in the juniors, the athletes do not all play tournaments with the same regularity.

As a testimony to her good progress in recent months, Annabelle points instead to her recent final on clay in Brazil.

A final and a quarter-final on ochre. She must like this surface, the young Quebecer? “Actually, I think she loves me! I prefer the tough,” she laughs.

All the same, 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 put the ball back into play, to always hit one more. »

Direction Virginia

It is already certain that she will go to Virginia University in the fall, an establishment, she points out, well rated “school and academic side”.

A path popular with more and more players, recognizes the 5’9″ athlete, who points out that the university on which she has set her sights is the same where the American Danielle Collins, current 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, of course that remains my goal, but we will see my progress. »

In the meantime, she enjoys being by their side in Paris. Because the Grand Slams are the only opportunities for juniors to meet professionals.

“I like it, Majors,” Xu said. It’s more serious. Among the juniors, not all players want to make a career. So in the other tournaments, some go out at night, others don’t warm up. »

Novak and Felix

Among his favorites in the big picture is the Serbian and world number 1 Novak Djokovic. “He’s my favorite, so it’s always a bonus to see him. I have always liked his game, his mind. He never gives up. »

She also met him on a few occasions, but each time, “he was busy” and she could not speak to him, she regrets.

Xu also cites Leylah, Félix and Bianca Andreescu among his role models.

“Félix is ​​a really 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 underlines.

Annabelle Xu will face ninth-seeded Czech Lucie Havlickova in the quarterfinals at 5 a.m. Thursday.