Canada beats Italy to win Billie Jean King Cup for 1st time
SEVILLE, Spain (AP) — Canada gave another display of its depth in world tennis by winning the Billie Jean King Cup on Sunday, a year after its men's team won the Davis Cup.
Leylah Fernandez and Marina Stakusic won their singles matches as Canada beat Italy 2-0 to claim its first-ever Billie Jean King Cup.
Canada men’s team will try to defend its first Davis Cup title later this month in Malaga, Spain.
Stakusic, ranked 258th in the world, put Canada ahead by defeating No. 43 Martina Trevisan 7-5, 6-3 for the biggest win of her career, then Fernandez sealed the victory by beating Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-3 at La Cartuja Stadium.
“I’m extremely happy, ecstatic," Fernandez said. “I can finally say, ‘We’re world champions,’ and we deserve it.”
The 20th-ranked Fernandez, runner-up in the 2021 U.S. Open, was perfect for Canada in Seville with four singles victories and one in doubles, while the 18-year-old Stakusic entered the tournament without a win over a top 100 opponent but earned three of them while representing her nation. Her only defeat was against No. 10 Barbora Krejcikova.
“It’s definitely not what I imagined would happen coming here,” Stakusic said. "It’s been an incredible week and I’m super happy I got to spend it with these women.”
Canada's Heidi El Tabakh became the first female captain to win the Billie Jean King Cup since American Kathy Rinaldi in 2017.
“I’m so incredibly proud and it’s been a pleasure sharing the court with them all week,” she said. "Everyone who is here currently has been a huge asset to the Canadian team throughout the years. We wouldn’t be here without every single one of them.”
Canada had beaten 11-time champion Czech Republic in the semifinals, while four-time champion Italy advanced past Slovenia for its first final appearance since 2013.
“When you fall down, it means you have something to pick yourself up for,” Italy captain Tathiana Garbin said. “You have to look around and find what is your treasure. I think we have learned a lot this week."
The 12-team BJK Cup Finals offered a record total of $9.6 million in prize money, including $2.4 million to the champions, the same as the men's Davis Cup.
Canada is the 13th nation to win the Billie Jean King Cup, and the second new champion after Switzerland’s triumph in Glasgow a year ago.
The women's teams competed in four round-robin groups, with the winners advancing to the semifinals. The United States was eliminated by the Czech Republic in a group that also included title-holder Switzerland.
AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis
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