Leylah Fernandez sealed a Canadian victory over Serbia in the best-of-five tie breaker at the Billie Jean King Cup in Kraljevo on Saturday.
The Canadian bench celebrated a 3-0 sweep, that was quickly upgraded to 4-0, to advance to next year’s qualifiers.
In a comeback win on day two, 18-year-old Fernandez scored 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 over Serbian No. 1 Nina Stojanovic. Then Rebecca Marino and Carol Zhao won the doubles match 6-7, 6-3, (10-0) to give Canada a final 4-0 score over Serbia in Kraljevo.
FERNANDEZ DOES IT! 🔥
18-year-old @leylahfernandez downs Nina Stojanovic in a comeback victory, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to give Canada an unassailable 3-0 lead over Serbia, winning the @BJKCup Play-off tie.
We’re officially in contention for the championship next year! #TennisNation 🇨🇦 pic.twitter.com/9UocQuqnIM
— Tennis Canada (@TennisCanada) April 17, 2021
Fernandez, ranked 72nd in the world, started the match in tight competition, unable to make grounds. Stojanovic took time away from the Canadian with her crosscourt backhands. The Serbian broke serve in the fifth game, but then struggled to close out the set as Fernandez was broken for a second time, making it 6-3 Serbia at the end of the first.
Early in the second, play threatened a similar result, until Fernandez earned herself a pivotal lead. Down 3-1 in the second set, Fernandez stepped into the baseline to not only break back immediately, but held and broke again, earning herself a lead in the second set. After much back-and-fourth, the Montreal native broke once more to win the second set and send the match into a decider.
Canada is through! 🇨🇦
After a lightbulb burning out delayed match point by 15 minutes, @leylahfernandez shows @TennisCanada the light, defeating Serbia’s Nina Stojanovic 3-6 6-3 6-4 💡#BJKCup pic.twitter.com/F7a5qbJgtL
— Billie Jean King Cup (@BJKCup) April 17, 2021
Despite Stojanovic’s line-clipping shots, Fernandez dictated play in the third set. At 4-3, Fernandez secured the break of serve she’d need to close out the match, but was broken back in the very next game. Canadians would see four match points come and go in the following game. On the fifth match point, the lights went out as a power surge blew out one third of the overhead bulbs.
Play was suspended for 10 minutes before resuming. Fernandez fought her way to a sixth match point and sealed the deal. It was lights out for Serbia as the resilient Fernandez drilled in another winner before the Serbian sent her final shot beyond the baseline.
Previously on Friday, fellow Canadian, Rebecca Marino propelled Canada to a commanding 2-0 lead with a 6-4, 7-6 (6) upset against Stojanovic. Earlier on Friday, Fernandez set the tone defeating Olga Danilovic 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 in the opening match.
Canada confirms their spot in the Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers, where a win would secure a spot in the 2022 Billie Jean King Cup Finals. Incase you didn’t know, the Billie Jean King Cup is the new name for the well known Fed Cup — the top international team tournament in women’s tennis