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Canada beats Czech Republic in tiebreaker to reach Billie Jean King Cup final for 1st time

Canada reached the Billie Jean King Cup final for the first time ever after topping the Czech Republic 2-1 in the semifinals on Saturday in Seville, Spain.

Leylah Fernandez of Laval, Que., and Ottawa’s Gabriela Dabrowski went the distance in the third and decisive match, taking down Barbora Krejčíková and Kateřina Siniaková 7-5, 7-6 (3) to punch Canada’s ticket to the final.

Canada won the opening set of the decisive doubles match. The teams stayed on serve until Canada broke their opponents to take a 6-5 advantage and then closed the deal with a win on serve.

The teams traded breaks late in the second set, and then Canada persevered in the tiebreaker with Fernandez serving to send her team into the final.

“Definitely, is being a great day for us, Team Canada,” said Fernandez. “In the singles match I was super happy to have the crowd with me, cheering me on that really help me.”

Canada will meet Italy in the 12-country final on Sunday. The Italians will play for the title for the first time in a decade after beating Slovenia.

Canada’s previous deepest run at the tournament was a semifinal loss to Czechoslovakia in 1988.

Live coverage of the final begins at 9 a.m. ET on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.

Dabrowski, a 31-year-old from Ottawa, won the U.S. Open women’s doubles championship two months ago.

Krejcikova, the 2021 French Open champion, has paired with Siniakova to win seven major doubles titles, including this year’s Australian Open.

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Krejcikova, the world number 10, put the Czechs ahead with a 6-2 6-1 singles win over 18-year-old Marina Stakusic of Mississauga, Ont.

WATCH | Stakusic loses opening match of semis:

Canada’s Marina Stakusic falls to Barbora Krejcikova to open Billie Jean King Cup semifinals

Featured VideoThe 18-year-old from Mississauga, Ont. lost to Czechia’s Barbora Krejcikova in straight sets (2-6, 1-6) in the opening semifinals match of the Billie Jean King Cup Finals.

Fernandez then kept Canada alive by claiming a 6-2 2-6 6-3 win over Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova, who arrived late from the WTA Finals in Cancun.

“I just played my game and tried to take it to her,” the 21-year-old Fernandez said after her singles win. “I love Billie Jean Cup tennis. It’s the World Cup of tennis.”

“I feel like it was a great match, and she [Fernandez] played amazing shots. I was a bit unlucky in the third set,” Vondrousova said.

WATCH | Fernandez keeps Canada alive:

Leylah Fernandez earns crucial victory to tie Billie Jean King Cup semifinals

Featured VideoThe Laval, Que. native defeated Czechia’s Marketa Vondrousova 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 to force an all-important deciding third match of the Billie Jean King Cup semifinals.

Earlier, Jasmine Paolini defeated Tamara Zidansek and Martina Trevisan beat Kaja Juvan in Italy’s 2-0 win over Slovenia to advance to the final and continue their quest for a fifth crown.

Paolini survived a wobble midway through the second singles clash before the world number 30 battled past Zidansek 6-2 4-6 6-3 to send her team through to the title clash, sparking huge celebrations from Italian fans at the Estadio de la Cartuja.

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The 27-year-old Paolini was trailing 2-0 in the decider but quickly rediscovered her rhythm to dash the hopes of first-time semi-finalists Slovenia, the lowest-ranked of the 12 countries in the competition.

Trevisan put Italy on course to reach the final for a sixth time with a battling 7-6(6) 6-3 victory over Slovenian world number 104 Juvan.

After edging a tight opening set, the 43rd-ranked Trevisan fought back from 3-1 down in the second and grabbed the decisive break in the eighth game to seal victory in two hours and 20 minutes.

“I have to say that today was really tough,” Trevisan said as Italy tasted success in their first semi-final appearance in the competition since 2014. “A lot of emotions and a lot of firsts.”

Italy’s last triumph in the competition came 10 years ago, and they will face stiff competition in Sunday’s title clash from Canada who have yet to win the tournament.

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