Leylah Fernandez has pulled off two big upsets to help lead Canada into a historic first appearance in the Billie Jean King Cup finals.
The 21-year-old half-Ecuadorian Canadian tennis player pulled off gripping upset wins in singles and doubles at the Billie Jean King Cup in Seville, Spain on Saturday.
Behind Fernandez’s two victories, Canada stunned 11-time champion Czech Republic 2-1 in Saturday’s semifinals. Canada, whose lone previous trip to the event’s semifinals was in 1988, will take on Italy for their first Billie Jean King Cup title on Sunday.
Four-time titlist Italy reached the championship match of the Billie Jean King Cup Finals for the first time in exactly a decade after Martina Trevisan and Jasmine Paolini picked up singles wins at the prestigious team event earlier on Saturday.
Canada had to battle back from a match down to reach the milestone. 2021 Roland Garros singles champion Barbora Krejcikova started the semifinal tie with a 6-2, 6-1 win over rising 18-year-old Marina Stakusic, who was facing a Top 10 player for the first time in her career.
However, Fernandez leveled the tie at 1-1 by upsetting reigning Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova 6-2, 2-6, 6-3. Vondrousova had won her last 11 Billie Jean King Cup singles matches in straight sets — including a win over Fernandez in 2019 — but the Canadian ended that streak.
Fernandez earned the fifth Top 10 win of her career with the victory — and her first Top 10 win since she beat three Top 5 players en route to the 2021 US Open final. Fernandez had gone 0-7 against Top 10 players between the 2021 US Open and Saturday’s win.
Shortly thereafter, Fernandez returned to court, where she paired with reigning US Open doubles champion Gabriela Dabrowski to face the seven-time Grand Slam-winning duo of Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, with a trip to the final in the balance.
In the first set of the doubles match, there were no break points for either team until 5-5, where the Canadians broke through after Siniakova double faulted on deciding point. Dabrowski then held serve at love to squeak out the opening set.
The second set was even closer and went down to the tiebreak, where Fernandez slammed a backhand winner down the line to earn the first mini-break at 3-2. The Canadians never relinquished that advantage, holding on for a 7-5, 7-6(3) win and booking a historic spot in the final.