ACAPULCO, Mexico - Canada's Leylah Annie Fernandez is well aware she will not be the crowd favourite when she plays her first career WTA Tour semifinal Friday night at the Mexican Open.

The 17-year-old from Laval, Que., will face Mexican Renata Zarazua in the semis. The world No. 270, who received a wild-card entry, is the first Mexican to reach a WTA Tour semifinal since 1993.

“It's going to be a battle,” Fernandez said. “She's a great player. She's here playing at home. I know that feeling so I'm just going to try to focus on me, stay positive and go for my shots.”

While Zarazua is a surprise semifinalist, the same could be said for Fernandez.

The world No. 190 had to win two matches just to qualify for the event before beating three higher-ranked opponents in the main draw to reach the semis.

Fernandez knocked off 18-year-old Anastasia Potapova of Russia 6-3, 7-5 in the quarterfinals on Thursday.

“There's no words, honestly,” Fernandez said. “I'm full of emotions. I'm happy, excited. I'm just proud of myself, the way that I fought today. It wasn't easy. Anastasia is a great player, she's a tough one to play and I knew that today was going to be a battle. I'm happy I was able to come through at the end.”

If Fernandez loses in the semis, she's projected to rise 51 spots in the rankings to No. 139 on Monday. If she wins the tournament, she could find herself in the top 110.

The other semifinal pits No. 7 seed Heather Watson of Great Britain against Xiyu Wang of China.

Fernandez has had a good start to 2019, qualifying for her first Grand Slam (the Australian Open) before upsetting then-world No. 5 Belinda Bencic of Switzerland in Fed Cup play.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2020.