Photo : Fran Santiago – ITF
Team Canada presented by Sobeys has defeated Poland 2-0 at the Billie Jean King Cup after singles victories from Marina Stakusic and Leylah Annie Fernandez. With the win, they win Group C and qualify for the semifinals.
Marina Stakusic has all the answers right now at the Billie Jean King Cup Finals, and it has put Team Canada presented by Sobeys on the brink of winning Group C. The newest member of the squad pulled off another big win on Thursday to give Canada a 1-0 lead over Poland in their second group stage tie.
While it was not the domination of her victory on Wednesday, Stakusic’s win on Thursday over Magdalena Frech was equally impressive as the 18-year-old rallied from a set and a break down to score the opening point of the tie with a 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 win.
Stakusic was the aggressor in the match, hitting three times as many winners as Frech 51 to 18, but also committing 48 unforced errors. She feasted on her opponent’s second serve, winning 61 per cent of those points and breaking serve five times on 13 break points.
It took a long time in her opening match on Wednesday for Stakusic to look human, but she found herself in trouble early against Frech down double break point in her second service game. The Canadian was able to save the first two but finally dropped serve for the first time at the Billie Jean King Cup to go down 1-2.
Frech added a second break two games later. The Canadian teen’s level began to improve as the set went along and she got one break back, but it was too little too late. Stakusic had nearly three times more unforced errors in the first set than she had in the entirety of her win over Rebeka Masarova.
The Pole broke for a 3-2 lead in the second set, but that seemed to provide a wake-up call for Stakusic. She had four break points in the following game before ripping backhand return winner to break to love two games later, levelling the set at 4-4.
From that point on, it was the Canadian in the ascendancy as she found her range with her groundstrokes and began to control the rallies. She missed a set point on Frech’s serve at 5-4, but in the eleventh game, Stakusic crushed a backhand winner to send the match to a deciding set.
Stakusic had to battle to keep the momentum as she held from love-40 down, saving four break points in total, in the opening game of the third set, but responded perfectly by firing a forehand winner down the line to break for a 2-0 lead.
After saving break points that would have given the Canadian a double break, Frech took advantage of a sloppy game from Stakusic to break back and pull within a game. But the teen was unphased and responded by immediately reclaiming the break with a massive forehand winner to set herself up to serve for the match.
Fernandez’s Fierce Performance wins Canada the tie
Fernandez was bulletproof in her match against Magda Linette, taking it in straight sets 6-2, 6-3 to seal the tie and top spot in Group C.
A much different story than her match against Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain yesterday, today’s showdown lasted half as long, concluding in a brisk 93 minutes.
From the jump, Fernandez had no interest in having a prolonged match, breaking the Pole’s serve three times in the first set alone. Though Linette would convert a break of her own in that span, the Canadian remained unfazed with her 4-1 lead. Though both held their remaining serves to end the set, Fernandez’s composure helped ensure a quick, early lead.
Linette showed signs of improvement in the second set, but an opening game break from Fernandez continued the dominance she established in the first set. The Pole kept it close, however, until the final two games, but Fernandez seemed sharper than before, leaving little room for error on Linette’s part. The Canadian won a staggering 86 per cent of first serve points and 80 per cent of her second serve points.
The dominance on her serve led to Linette failing to convert a single break point in the second set, while Fernandez’s breaks in the first and last game bookended the set perfectly.
Still riding the momentum from her thrilling victory yesterday, Fernandez never once seemed like she would fall behind. In fact, across both sets, Fernandez never trailed.
With a clutch victory sealing Canada’s tie against Poland, the team will have a day off to recoup ahead of the semifinals on Saturday, Nov. 11.
Following Fernandez’s win, Eugenie Bouchard and Gabriela Dabrowski will face off against Weronika Falkowska and Katrzyna Kawa in a dead rubber.