Photo : Martin Sidorjak
Team Canada presented by Sobeys’ first tie at the Billie Jean King Cup Finals could not have gone much better, as Leylah Annie Fernadnez, Bianca Andreescu and Gabriela Dabrowski combined to sweep Italy in their first group stage tie at the Billie Jean King Cup Finals.
Fernandez and Andreescu put the tie away early with a pair of straight-set singles wins before Fernandez and Dabrowski teamed up to close the door with another win in two sets.
Their reward is a winner-take-all tie with Switzerland on Friday with top spot in Group A on the line. The winner will advance to the semifinals.
Andreescu had to battle in her opening win over Elisabetta Cocciaretto, but Leylah Fernandez quickly crushed any tension with an absolutely demolition of Martina Trevisan to give the Canadians an unassailable 2-0 lead.
Canada now faces a winner-take-all showdown with Switzerland on Friday. The winner will win Group A and advance to the semifinals.
In the first match of the day,Andreescu trailed in both sets but was never out, constantly fighting back for a straight-set set win over Elisabetta Cocciaretto.
Canada leads Italy 1-0 in the best-of-three tie courtesy of Andreescu’s 7-6(3), 6-3 win. A victory in either of the two remaining matches on Thursday would win the tie for the Canadians.
It was hardly a clean match from either woman, as both committed over 30 unforced errors, however Andreescu managed to balance slightly better with 25 winners to Cocciaretto’s 13. The Canadian took advantage of her opponent’s second serve, winning 56 per cent of those points.
A missed break point in the opening game quickly came back to haunt Andreescu as she fired a shot wide to surrender the break in her first service game. She recovered it to close the set to 2-3, only to immediately be broken back.
Andreescu faced a set point on her own serve at 2-5, but a forehand wide from Cocciaretto allowed the Canadian to hold. That miss completely changed the momentum of the opening set as Andreescu promptly broke back and managed to level the set at 5-all.
It was Andreescu letting the lead slip away early in the tiebreak as she led 2-0 only to find herself back at 2-2. But some big hitting from the Canadian allowed her to steal both of Cocciaretto’s service points to move ahead 6-3 which proved decisive enough to take the opening set.
Just like the opening set, Andreescu dropped serve in her first service game of the second set, but her comeback was not as dramatic. After falling behind 2-0, the Canadian’s aggression paid off with a break to level the set at 2-all.
She continued to attack as the set went along and after failing to break in the sixth game, a deep backhand drew an error to set up break point and a strong return from Andreescu handed her the lead and a chance to serve out the match.
There was no such drama in the second match, as Leylah Annie Fernandez raced out to an early lead against Martina Trevisan and kept her foot on the gas as she clinched the win for Canada with a 6-0, 6-0 win in just 45 minutes.
Everything went Fernandez’s way in the match. Even though the Italian put 81 per cent of her first serves in play, the Canadian won 78 per cent of return points, including every single point on Trevisan’s second serve. The Italian actually won more return points (eight) than points on her own serve (seven).
Overall, Fernandez lost just 15 points in the entire match, winning 49.
The first set was all Fernandez. She broke serve in the opening game and never looked back.
Trevisan had no answer to Fernandez speedy court coverage and struggled to stay in the rallies. Fernandez needed a mere 18 minutes to claim the first set, losing just six points in the bagel.
Nothing changed in the second set, and Fernandez continued to hit winners seemingly at will while allowing nothing past her. The closest Trevisan came to winning a game was in the opening game of the second set when she got to deuce on her own serve, but she could not prevent another break of serve.
That seemed to be the last gasp for the Italian, who did not see another game point as Fernandez raced to the finish line and clinched the win for Canada.
Teaming up with Gabriela Dabrowski in the doubles, Fernandez picked up where she left off as the Canadian team broke both Jasmine Paolini and Lucia Bronzetti in each of their first service games.
When Bronzetti held serve to make the score 1-4, it was the first game Fernandez had lost in two matches. Still, it did little to slow the Canadians down as they broke serve again to wrap up the opening set.
Another break to start the set, courtesy of a Fernandez backhand winner down the line, put the Canadians ahead in the second.
For the first time all day, Fernandez had to face break points on her own serve at 3-1 in the second set, but she managed to escape and hold.
That was as close at the Italians would come to slowing the Canadians, who broke in the next game before Dabrowski served out the match to compete the sweep with a 6-1, 6-1 win.
Canada meets Switzerland on Friday in the final match of the group stage. The winner will finish atop Group A and will advance to the semifinals to meet the winner of Group D.