Leylah Fernandez pulled off upset wins in singles and doubles at the Billie Jean King Cup Finals on Saturday, leading Canada to a historic first appearance in the Billie Jean King Cup championship tie.
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.
Earlier on Saturday, 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 over Slovenia at the prestigious team event in Seville, Spain.
Canada had to fight back from a match down against the Czechs to reach the milestone. 2021 Roland Garros singles champion Barbora Krejcikova started Saturday's semifinal tie with a 6-2, 6-1 win over 18-year-old Marina Stakusic, who was facing a Top 10 player for the first time in her career.
However, Fernandez leveled the tie 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.
Fernandez returned to court shortly thereafter for the decisive doubles match, where she and reigning US Open doubles champion Gabriela Dabrowski faced the seven-time Grand Slam-winning duo of Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova.
In 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) victory and booking a historic spot in the final.
Earlier, in Saturday's first semifinal tie, the Italians advanced past Slovenia with an insurmountable 2-0 lead after the singles matches. Trevisan and Paolini have each gone an undefeated 3-0 in singles this week.
Four-time champion Italy's most recent final and title came 10 years ago in 2013. That title was part of a commanding stretch by the Italians where they won the Billie Jean King Cup four times out of eight editions: 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2013.
Trevisan beat Kaja Juvan 7-6(6), 6-3 to start Saturday's semifinals. World No.43 Trevisan saved a set point at 6-5 in the first-set tiebreak before taking home the 2-hour and 20-minute victory over 104th-ranked Juvan.
In the second match, World No.30 Paolini had to battle past 100th-ranked Tamara Zidansek 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 in just over two hours. Paolini fell behind by an early break in the third set, but she won six of the last seven games to prevail and clinch the tie for Italy.
It was still a breakthrough tournament for the Slovenians despite Saturday's loss. This week, they made the semifinals of the Billie Jean King Cup Finals for the first time in the nation's history.