Photo : Martin Sidorjak
Team Canada presented by Sobeys completes the sweep against Spain.
Eugenie Bouchard and Gabriela Dabrowski’s chemistry was too much for Sorribes Tormo and Masarova in the finale of the tie against Spain.
Prior to the doubles match, Leylah Annie Fernandez took home an electrifying victory against Sara Sorribes Tormo. With the back-to-back victories following Marina Stakusic’s dominant performance, Team Canada presented by Sobeys clinched their first tie of the event against Spain.
At just 18 years old, Stakusic announced herself to the tennis world on Wednesday with a spectacular victory in her first-ever match at the Billie Jean King Cup to give Team Canada presented by Sobeys the lead over the hosts Spain in their group stage tie.
Stakusic, who has yet to play a main-draw match on the WTA Tour, defeated Spain’s Rebeka Masarova in straight sets 6-3, 6-1 to shock the home crowd and put the Canadians on the brink of victory in their opening tie of the Finals.
In the biggest match of her career, Stakusic showed she belonged at the competition with a clinical performance where she only lost nine points on serve and saved all five break points she faced. She also committed just nine unforced errors while coaxing 33 off of her opponent’s racket. She won nearly twice as many total points 62 to 35.
If Stakusic was at all nervous heading into the biggest match of her life, she did not show it as the 18-year-old looked like a season veteran right away, opening proceedings with a hold to love. She immediately began applying pressure to the Masarova serve, pushing the Spaniard to deuce in her first return game.
Masarova cracked the next time she stepped up to the line, committing a slew of errors to hand the Canadian a break for 3-1.
Now with a lead, Stakusic continued to look right at home as she fired lazers of off both wings to keep Masarova on the defensive. Not even failing to convert two set points on the Spaniard’s serve at could deter the Canadian. She capped off a dominant set with a hold to love, having dropped just two points on serve.
The momentum carried into the second set as Stakusic immediately went up love-40 and drew another error to get a quick break. Masarova had no answers for the immaculate ball-striking from the teen and missed another forehand on break point to fall behind 3-0.
For the first time in the match, Stakusic started to face adversity when Masarova began to work her way into service games. But facing real pressure for the first time, the teenager was up to the task. In the fourth game, she held from 15-40 down to consolidate her double break. Two games later, she reeled off five straight points from love-40 down to move within a game of victory.
Those escapes provided the knockout punch as Masarova could not muster any more fight. Stakusic broke serve for a third time in the set to cap off the victory.
Leylah Annie Fernandez now has a chance to clinch the tie for Canada in the second singles match against Sara Sorribes Tormo.
Fernandez Shows Grit to Clinch
Fernandez’s three-hour epic against Sorribes Tormo was a tight two-setter with a final score of 7-6(8), 7-6(7) that saw the Canadian making a formidable comeback in the second set to ice the match.
The two previously faced off in Madrid back in May in a match that went Sorribes Tormo’s way, and Fernandez seemed adamant to even the tides after her loss. With her sights set on exacting revenge and sealing Team Canada’s win, she remained resilient throughout the match.
It was particularly even in each of the two sets. Both players were solid on their first serve, but Sorribes Tormo’s inability to break Fernandez consistently proved to be her downfall, particularly in the first set.
Though both converted two break points in the opening set, Fernandez’s four minibreaks in the tiebreaker pushed her to the win. Sorribes Tormo came close to taking the first set herself when she took a key 8-7 lead, but Fernandez’s subsequent service points put her right back in the driver’s seat. The Spanish player had one last opportunity to even it up, but her serve was no match for Fernandez who scored another minibreak to take the lead.
Much like the first set, the second was a brutal fight to the very end and was decided by yet another tiebreaker. Both players broke serve twice before the tiebreak began, but the minibreaks came in abundance once again to conclude the chaos of the second match.
With the doubles match coming up next, Team Canada will search for its third and final win of the day in their quest to sweep Spain. Eugenie Bouchard, who is playing at the Billie Jean King Cup for the first time since 2018, will team up with Gabriela Dabrowski to face off against Masarova and Sorribes Tormo.
Dabrowski, Bouchard Complete Sweep of Spain At Billie Jean King Cup Finals
In a much brisker match than its predecessor, the two Canadians dispatched their opponents in straight sets 6-3, 7-5 to complete Canada’s 3-0 sweep of the hosts.
The duo’s ability to hold their serves throughout the match wound up being the difference maker as their Spanish opposition struggled mightily on that front, winning only 29 per cent of their first serve points. While they were slightly better on second serve points, it proved to be of no real difference as they failed to take a set.
Thanks to Bouchard and Dabrowski’s tone-setting first set, it became clear that the two were not interested in letting Spain get anything going. They hung on to take the second set, completing the sweep and taking all six sets, which could be critical in seeing Canada into the semifinals.
With their sweep now complete, Team Canada’s focus switches to Poland, against whom they’ll look to continue their win streak. The matches are set to begin Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023, at 10 am EST.