Leylah Fernandez follows through on a forehand. She and Gabriela Dabrowski both lost in the Eastbourne finals on Saturday.

Photo : Martin Sidorjak

Canada had two looks at titles on Saturday as both Leylah Annie Fernandez and Gabriela Dabrowski were competing in finals at the Rothesay International in Eastbourne, but both women walked away with runner-up trophies. 

Fernandez, who was competing in her first grass-court final, came up short in the singles final against world No. 14 Daria Kasatkina 6-3, 6-4, while Dabrowski and Erin Routliffe succumbed to a comeback from Lyudmyla Kichenok and Jelena Ostapenko in the doubles final. 

Fernandez had a brilliant week on route to her first final on grass, including victories over former French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova and world No. 12 Madison Keys, but she could not find a consistent solution in the title match against Kasatkina. 

The world No. 14 kept Fernandez under constant pressure when serving. The Canadian faced 10 break points in the match, saving five, and only won 49 per cent of her own total service points. While she was solid herself on return, Fernandez only managed to convert two of her seven break point chances. 

It was a nightmare start for the Canadian, who had her serve broken in the opening game of the match. Despite generally being the player in more control of the rallies in the opening set, especially when she was able to get into the net, Fernandez was unable to reel Kasatkina back in.

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The one opening the Canadian had was in a marathon sixth game where Kasatkina had to serve through 11 deuces and Fernandez had three chances to break. However, the world No. 14 managed to hang on to stay ahead. Even though she missed break point chances of her own in the following game, Kasatkina finished the opening set with another break courtesy of a Fernandez double fault. 

Set two was an absolute roller coaster. Fernandez once again got in trouble early, dropping her first service game and then failing to convert four break points in the next game as she quickly fell behind 0-3.  

Just when it seemed like Kasatkina was going to run away with the win, the Canadian made things interesting by winning four straight games, continuing to use her net game effectively and breaking serve twice, to move ahead 4-3. 

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The momentum vanished almost immediately as the world No. 14 broke to love to get back on serve at 4-4. Fernandez had a chance to break for a third straight time in the following game, which also would have set her up to serve for the set, but Kasatkina erased the break point with a textbook serve-plus-one, finishing with a perfect backhand down the line.  

Rather than serving for the set, Fernandez found herself serving to stay in the match and had a second nightmare service game in a row, getting broken to love again to end the match. 

Even with the loss, Fernandez will now head to the All England Club with momentum after her best ever result at grass-court tournament. She is seeded 30th and will open her campaign on Tuesday against Lucia Bronzetti of Italy. 

Dabrowski, Routliffe Narrowly Miss Second Grass Title 

In the doubles final, Gabriela Dabrowski and Erin Routliffe were looking to hoist their second title of the grass season but were unable to put away Lyudmyla Kichenok and Jelena Ostapenko, eventually falling 5-7, 7-6(2), 10-8. 

The top seeds dominated on their first serve, winning 83 per cent of those points, but struggled mightly when they missed their first delivery, winning a mere 35 per cent of their second serve points. They still only dropped serve once while breaking twice, but in the end lost just three more points in the match. 

After a straight-forward first 10 games, Dabrowski and Rouliffe made their move late, breaking Kichenok in the 11th game to set themselves up to serve for the set. That proved to be the toughest test in the opening set for the Canadian-Kiwi duo, as they took a 40-15 lead on Routliffe’s serve, only to be pushed back to a deciding point at deuce. Fortunately, Dabrowski timed her poach perfectly, putting away a smash on their third set point to take the opener. 

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The top seeds again managed to break Kichenok in the 11th game of the second set, this time when a huge return from Routliffe drew an error. However, the Kiwi was unable to serve out the match when Kichenok stepped up, putting away a volley winner to break for the first time all day. 

The ensuing tiebreak was dominated by Ostapenko, who scored the only two minibreaks with big winners to send the final to a match tiebreak. 

Holding serve proved to be a challenge for both teams in the match tiebreak, with the first six points going to the returner. The tiebreak was tight, with neither team leading by more than a point until the very end, when both Dabrowski and Routliffe went for a volley down 8-9, match point, and the ball ended up in the net. 

They now head to Wimbledon, where they are the second seeds.