Great day for Canada: Fernandez | The Express Tribune



Canada reached the Billie Jean King Cup final for the first time in their history with a thrilling 2-1 win over the Czech Republic on Saturday, setting up a championship match against Italy.

Four-time champions Italy beat Slovenia 2-0 earlier on in Seville in the first semi-final, winning both singles rubbers.

Canada, who were competing in the semi-finals for the first time in 35 years, knocked out the fancied Czechs, who have won the competition 11 times – behind only record 18-time winners the United States.

Canada’s Leylah Fernandez beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 to level the tie at 1-1 after Barbora Krejcikova defeated Marina Stakusic 6-2, 6-1.

Then Fernandez and Gabriela Dabrowski defeated Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova 7-5, 7-6 (7/3) in the deciding doubles.

“It’s been a great day for us, for Team Canada,” said Fernandez.

“Gaby was always there to attack and take it to them… I’m just happy I have a great partner out there (Dabrowski) who can show me how to do it.”

Rookie Stakusic, 18, who recorded career-highlight wins over Spain’s Rebeka Masarova and Poland’s Magdalena Frech in the group, was swept aside in straight sets by world number 10 Krejcikova in the opening singles rubber.

However world number 35 Fernandez, who has enjoyed a fine week at the tournament, triumphed over 2023 Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova to take the tie to the deciding doubles.

World number seven Vondrousova converted only four out of 13 break points in the clash which Fernandez took in three sets.

The Canadian returned to play in the gripping doubles encounter which followed, and with Dabrowski took a tight first set.

The second was even closer and they clinched with a tie-break victory.

Italy, who last won the competition 10 years ago, triumphed in both singles rubbers against Slovenia to wrap up victory without needing the doubles.

Martina Trevisan eased past Kaja Juvan 7-6 (8/6), 6-3 before Jasmine Paolini sealed the win with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 triumph over Tamara Zidansek.

“I’m really happy and really proud of my team, it was a really tough match today, a little bit of a rollercoaster,” said Paolini.

“I’m so happy for my country, my team and everybody who is cheering for us and working for us to make the week better.”

Trevisan saved a set point in the tie-break at the end of the first set, and then converted her fourth match point to take the first rubber.

Zidansek double faulted on break point to hand Paolini a 5-3 lead in the decisive third set and she served out to clinch the match and the tie.

“I cannot ask for more, I am more than happy for them and more than proud, I’m a lucky captain,” said Italian captain Tathiana Garbin.


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