Canadians win the Billie-Jean-King Cup

Led by Leylah Annie Fernandez and Marina Stakusic, Canada won the first Billie-Jean-King Cup in its history, triumphing in the final over Italy’s Martina Trevisan and Jasmine Paolini in two straight sets on Sunday in Seville.

After the authoritarian victory of 18-year-old Ontarian Marina Stakušić against Italian Martina Trevisan, 43.e world racket, in 2 sets 7-5 and 6-3, Leylah Annie Fernandez, a 21-year-old resident of Laval, confirmed Canada’s victory by defeating Jasmine Paolini, 30e on the WTA, also in 2 sets, won 6-2 and 6-3.

I don’t know how to describe what just happened. I am so proud of this team, these players are fantastic, said captain Heidi El Tabakh on the pitch. It’s surreal… We had an amazing week, it’s a dream come true for the whole team!

This win for Canada, the country’s first at the Billie-Jean-King Cup, is the latest success for Canadian tennis on the international stage, which has had a successful year. Last November, the men won the men’s counterpart of this competition, the Davis Cup, first time.

It’s an amazing feeling, I’m so proud that I could represent the country and that I was able to win in front of Billie (Jean King), who was in the audience… We’re going to have fun tonight!

Billie Jean King was present at the presentation of the trophy that bears her name.

Photo: Reuters / MARCELO DEL POZO

As today, with this delegation led by Leylah Annie Fernandez, Canada’s triumph at the 2022 Davis Cup had the signature of Quebec: Félix Auger-Aliassime, defeating Australian Alex de Minaur, enabled Canada to win its first crown.

This victory means a lot for Canadian tennis, added Marina Stakušić. I couldn’t be more proud of this team. It was the best experience ever!

A sentiment shared by Sylvain Bruneau, High Performance Consultant, Tennis Canada, when contacted by Radio-Canada Sports.

In tennis, we are used to playing individual competitions, so to play as a team where everyone is together, players and coaching staff, and to win the title by beating the powerful Czech Republic, that is phenomenal. What the girls did this week was outstanding.

It’s still something to achieve the feat of winning the Davis Cup and the Billie-Jean-King Cup just one year apart. Not many countries have done this.

For Italy, who have won the competition four times since its inception in 1963, it was their first appearance in the finals since 2013. Before this year’s epic, Canada’s best result dates back to 1988, a semi-final reached in Melbourne, Australia, and lost to Czechoslovakia .

Leylah Annie Fernandez returns the backhand ball.

Leylah Fernandez played a key role for Canada at the Billie Jean King Cup in Seville.


Quick finale

Discovery of the tournament, Stakušić, 258e on the WTA, she entered the finals with the confidence she showed all week, on the strength of individual victories, first against the Spaniard Rebeka Masarova in two sets, then against the Polish Magdalena Frech in three rounds, and in a close match against the Czech Barbora Krejcikova, Saturday in the semi-finals.

Marina Stakušić hits the tennis ball.

Marina Stakušić won the first match of the Billie-Jean-King Cup final.

Photo: getty images for itf / Fran Santiago

This first round had the feel of a novel, with a three-part story that lasted 55 minutes.

After a dominant service game, Stakušić broke his opponent at the first opportunity, en route to a 3-0 lead, and then a 4-1 lead. The wind blowing in her sails, however, quickly turned.

Trevisan then gathered herself to attack her head on. Four consecutive winners, good for a score of 5-4, gave the Italian a chance to serve for the set, but Stakušić had good tennis in store. Three wins in a row for the Canadian would not only save the furniture, but also happily end the first chapter of her fairy tale.

Against the wall, a break of serve to bring the match back to 5-5 brought Stakušić to the tie, and then a shutout gave her the lead, before another break of serve – her third in the first set – brought her the first set, won 7- 5.

The continuation began with a successful stoppage of both rivals, a scenario that was repeated on the 4the and 5e games to hold the opponent by the throat. For Stakušić, the favorite of the tournament, there was no reason to worry, because his 6e rest of the day gave him a 4-2 lead.

A winning service game in the tiebreak then brought the Ontarian to within four points of victory. It would take a little more, but the effort was there all the time: at 8e in the game, Stakušić served himself 4 match points before seeing Trevisan quickly counter them and win the game after 16 points.

The rest, along with Stakušić, were more expeditious. With 40-15, with his 6e match point, the Ontarian planted a forehand down the line to end an unforgettable week in style. With 77 points won, 15 winning shots, 2 aces and 6 breaks in the match, the Canadian gave her country the lead in this final with an authoritarian victory.

For a player with very little experience, who had to face several top 60 players in an environment of this size, Marina was a nice surprise, praised Sylvain Bruneau. She acted like a veteran even though she is quite green at this level. That she managed to put everything in place when the pressure was on topit was really special.

Leylah Annie Fernandez returns the backhand ball.

Leylah Fernandez played a key role for Canada at the Billie Jean King Cup in Seville.


In the second Sunday match, Laval faced Leylah Annie Fernandez (35e) Jasmine Paolini (30e). A promising duel, not only for the stakes, while a win for Fernandez would give Canada its first victory at the Billie-Jean-King Cup, but also on paper, since the two players are separated by only 5 places in the WTA rankings.

It was her turn to shine, Leylah Annie Fernandez had no time to take the lead. A break point followed by a service game win in the tiebreak, after 14 points, gave Fernandez a 2-0 lead… before Paolini promptly erased his deficit to bring the opponents back to 2-2.

Rather than changing the shape of the match, this comeback by the Italians did more to revive Fernandez’s ambitions. These successful break-serve sequences continued to punctuate the first set, but entirely in favor of the Laval resident. Two other breaks of serve converted by Fernandez put her in position to serve for the set, which ended 6-2 in 45 minutes, after winning 4 consecutive games.

The second round proved Fernandez’s superiority. The opponent was again opposed by a long game of 16 points, and the Quebecer showed confidence with a two-handed backhand along the line on the way to a break and a 2-1 lead. The next game offered a similar scenario: a long 12-point tiebreak, in which Fernandez led.

Paolini’s combativeness was up to the challenge, but not at the level of the Canadian. Another service break, his 5the match, allowed Fernandez to serve for the match – and for the title.

Unfortunately, the occasion was more beautiful than the execution. Instead, the affair ended while his opponent was serving. With a crossed two-handed backhand, his 24e match winner and the highlight of a successful week for her and her compatriots, Leylah Annie Fernandez won the second set 6-3 to give Canada a historic title.

Leylah is a player who excels under pressure, analyzed Sylvain Bruneau. There were a lot of them this week, and in the most tense moments she knew how to raise her tennis. The level of play she offered all week is spectacular.

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