Sports: Fernandez tops Vismane, Canada sweeps Latvia to make Billie Jean King Cup finals

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VANCOUVER — Canada is through to the Billie Jean King Cup finals after Leylah Fernandez beat Latvia's Daniela Vismane 6-2, 6-1 in a qualifier in Vancouver on Saturday.

  Fernandez tops Vismane, Canada sweeps Latvia to make Billie Jean King Cup finals © Provided by The Canadian Press

The result gave the Canadians a 3-0 sweep of the series after Fernandez beat Latvian No. 2 seed Darja Semenistaja 6-1, 6-2 on Friday and Canada's second seed Rebecca Marino battled Vismane to a 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-3 victory.

Gabriela Dabrowski and Carol Zhao added another victory to Canada's tally later on Saturday, topping Semenistaja and Vismane 6-1, 6-3 in doubles action.

Fernandez, ranked 21st in the world, took five of eight break points and won 76 per cent of her first serve points against Vismane, the world No. 230.

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Vismane played an athletic game, sprinting all over the court and varying her shot placement, but the 19-year-old Fernandez held strong and did not concede a single breakacross the one hour long match.

Canada came into the indoor hard court qualifier sitting in ninth spot in the Billie Jean King Cup rankings while Latvia was at No. 14.

Last year, Canada upset France in the round robin portion of the tournament before losing to the Russian Tennis Federation.

Latvia is playing the qualifier without two of its top players, including world No. 11 Jelena Ostapenko, who suffered a wrist injury at the Miami Open.

Anastasija Sevastova is also out after announcing in January that she was taking a break from tennis to deal with an undisclosed ailment.

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Latvia lost to the U.S. in qualifiers last year.

Fernandez, who hails from Laval, Que., was focused and patient as she took on Latvia's top seed Saturday.

The determination paid off early when the young Canadian placed a long bomb near the service line, well out of her opponent's reach to go up 1-0.

Midway through the set, Fernandez opened a game with a slick cross-court shot from near the net, then followed it up with an ace, denying Vismane a single point en route to a 5-1 lead.

The 21-year-old Latvian rallied in the next game, using her speed to prolong a rally that had both players criss-cross the court, making seemingly impossible shots. Vismane prevailed and cut Fernandez's lead to 5-2.

The second set saw Fernandez jump out to a 4-1 lead on a well-placed return. The runner-up of last year's U.S. Open celebrated with an enthusiastic yell and a fist pump before joining Canada captain Heidi El Tabakh on the sideline for a break between games.

Fernandez closed out the set with a solid return game, and celebrated with another big fist pump before shaking hands with the entire Latvian box and high-fived everyone in the Canadian box.

In doubles action, Dabrowski — the ninth ranked women's player in the world — and Zhao cruised to an easy first-set win.

Latvia kept the second set tight until a double fault and a return into the net gave Canada a break for a 4-3 lead.

From there, the host country pulled away, with Dabrowski bumping the cushion to 5-3 with a massive ace before the Canadians sealed the match.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 16, 2022.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

Fernandez tops Vismane, Canada sweeps Latvia to make Billie Jean King Cup finals .
VANCOUVER — A big win on home soil will be an enduring memory for Canadian tennis phenom Leylah Fernandez. The 19-year-old from Laval, Que., helped Canada secure a spot in November's Billie Jean King Cup finals with a dominant 4-0 sweep of Latvia in a qualifier in Vancouver. Fernandez, ranked 21st in the world, came in as the top-seeded Canadian and earned a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Latvia's No. 2 seed Darja Semenistaja on Friday. She followed the performance with a 6-2, 6-1 win Saturday over Daniela Vismane, Latvia's top player in the series. "I was just a small part of a huge team and a great team effort.

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