Billie Jean King Cup: Canada face Italy in their debut final

The two in-form teams of the week will face off in today’s final. Canada stunned the Czech Republic in the last four, while Italy dispatched Slovenia in the semi-finals

Jasmine Paolini, BJK Cup Finals, 2023 Jasmine Paolini competes in BJK Cup Finals, 2023 Zuma / Panoramic

Canada will come up against Italy in their maiden Billie Jean King Cup final, after they stunned 11-time champions Czech Republic in the semi-finals.

Barbora Krejcikova had given the Czechs a 1-0 lead as she cruised past Canadian teenager, and tournament debutant, Marina Stakusic 6-2, 6-1.

But current world No 20, Leylah Fernandez, produced one of the performances of the tournament as she defeated Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 to pull her country back level at 1-1.

It therefore all came down to the deciding doubles match, with Fernandez and Gabriela Dabrowski taking on one of the finest women’s doubles teams on the planet in Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova.

Excellent doubles display seals it for Canada

Yet, once again, the underdogs prevailed, with the Canadian duo putting on a superb display to take down the Czech maestros 7-5, 7-6 (7-3) and clinch a memorable tie 2-1. With it, Canada reached their first ever Billie Jean King Cup final.

“It’s been a great day for us, for Team Canada,” Fernandez said after the match.

“Gaby was always there to attack and take it to them. I’m just happy I have a great partner out there who can show me how to do it.”

Four-time champions Italy await Canada in the final

Awaiting them in the final are Italy, who continued their smooth and serene progress through the tournament with a 2-0 victory over Slovenia.

Martina Trevisan beat Kaja Juvan 7-6, 6-3 in a lengthy encounter lasting two hours and 20 minutes, before Jasmine Paolini also came through a tough encounter against Tamara Zidansek 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 to seal the tie for the Italians.

Italy are seeking their fifth title and their first since 2013, when they beat Russia in the final.

“It was my first semi-final here in this competition, and when you are on court and you are not playing just for you but you are playing for an entire country, for all the team, for my teammates, it’s not easy to manage the emotions,” said Trevisan following her gruelling victory over Juvan.

“But the heart and head were there, so I’m very happy.”

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