Canada sweep Italy in Billie Jean King Cup final

Leylah Fernandez – Canada. The French Open, also known as the Roland-Garros tennis tournament at the Stade Roland Garros, Paris, France on Sunday 29 May 2022. Photo: Chryslene Caillaud / Panoramic /
Photo: Chryslene Caillaud

Leylah Fernandez led Canada to their first Billie Jean King Cup title when she scored the decisive point in Italy’s 2-0 win in Seville on Monday.

The US Open runner-up continued her excellent form during the week when she defeated Jasmine Paolini 6-2 6-3.

After the 21-year-old converted point, the Canadian team celebrated wildly on the court in front of their jubilant fans.

“I don’t know what to say,” said Canadian captain Heidi El Tabakh.

“I’m so proud of this team, these girls are incredible. It’s a dream come true.”

Teenager Marina Stakusic put Canada in the spotlight earlier with a stunning win over Martina Trevisan.

The 18-year-old, ranked 258th in the WTA rankings, produced an effortless display to win 7-5 6-3 against the 43rd ranked opponent.

Until victory was within her grasp, Stakusic collapsed as four game points went astray as Trevisan served at 2-5.

But she swallowed that disappointment and cruised through her next service game, finishing the tournament with a scintillating forehand winner.

“I’m so happy and honored that I could play this week, this was the best week of my life,” Stakusic, who hasn’t even played a WTA draw this year, said on court.

It was then up to Fernandez who duly claimed her fourth singles win of the week by beating Paolini.

Fernandez had produced heroics the day before against the Czech Republic when she beat Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova to keep Canada in the semifinals.

She then teamed up with Gabriela Dabrowski to defeat Czech Grand Slam doubles champions Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova.

The Canadian team will receive $US2.4 million ($NZ4.1 million) in prize money – a record for a women’s team event formerly known as the Fed Cup.

American King also presented them with the trophy and the team members received blue jackets similar to those loved by the great American.

“Congratulations to Canada on capturing their first Billie Jean King Cup title,” said King.

“They played incredible tennis this week and are deserving world champions, and it was a great honor to present them with the trophy.

“I’m already excited for 2024!”

Canada has become the 13th nation to win the Billie Jean King Trophy and the second new champions in two years following Switzerland’s victory in Glasgow 12 months ago.

– Reuters

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