Andreescu and Fernandez lift Canada past Italy at Billie Jean King Cup

GLASGOW, United Kingdom — Canada rolled to a 3-0 victory over Italy in Group A play on Thursday at the Billie Jean King Cup.

Bianca Andreescu defeated Elisabetta Cocciaretto 7-6 (3), 6-3 in the opener of the best-of-three tie and Leylah Fernandez locked up the win with a 6-0, 6-0 rout of Martina Trevisan.

Fernandez later teamed with Gabriela Dabrowski for a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Jasmine Paolini and Lucia Bronzetti to complete the sweep.

"Today was just a great day overall," Fernandez said.

Andreescu, from Mississauga, Ont., was tested in her opening set. The 2019 US Open champion rallied from 2-5 down and went on to complete the win in one hour 51 minutes.

"I kind of like playing when I'm down, so I raised my level somehow," Andreescu said. "I don't know, there is like a switch in my brain. I just become more aggressive."

Andreescu dropped her first service game to start the second set, but responded quickly. She won 80 per cent of points on her first serve in the set, and broke Cocciaretto twice en route to a 6-3 win.

“The support from everyone that are in the stands, my cheerleaders from Canada, I’m glad that they came down," Andreescu said. "Without their support, I don’t know if I could have pulled the win today, so I’m very grateful.”

Fernandez, from Laval, Que., wasted little time in her singles match.

She needed just 44 minutes to complete the rare double bagel. It was her first shutout in an official match since a junior win over Elsa Jacquemot at Roland Garros in 2019.

Fernandez broke Trevisan four times and had just two unforced errors in a first set that took just 18 minutes to complete.

She continued her strong play in the second, hitting 10 winners and converting 88 per cent of first-serve points.

“Bianca played a great match and I think I was just so happy I was able to follow it up with a great performance," Fernandez said.

Fernandez and Dabrowski, from Ottawa, then breezed to a doubles win in 46 minutes. The Canadian duo didn't face a break point in the first set, then converted 92 per cent of first serve points in the second set to wrap up the match in just 46 minutes.

The results set up a Friday showdown with Switzerland, a 3-0 winner over Italy on Wednesday.

Captain Sylvain Bruneau has until one hour before match time to set his lineup for the Group A finale. The winner will advance to Saturday's semifinals.

"We expect a tough match with Switzerland," Bruneau said. "They have very good players, very powerful players. It's going to be a different day so we have to be ready.

"Enjoy today but tomorrow is another one."

The final is set for Sunday.

The Swiss side is anchored by 13th-ranked Belinda Bencic and No. 35 Jill Teichmann.

Fernandez, meanwhile, is ranked 40th in the world, six spots ahead of Andreescu. Dabrowski holds the No. 6 spot in the doubles rankings.

Canada upset 2020 champion France last year before falling to Russia. Andreescu and Fernandez were not in the lineup.

Switzerland lost to Russia in last year's final. Russia is not in the field this year due to suspension.

Switzerland is fifth in the nation rankings. Canada is sixth and Italy is 12th.

The Canadian lineup is rounded out by Vancouver's Rebecca Marino and Carol Zhao of Vaughan, Ont.

Canada has never reached the final at this tournament. Canada made it to the semifinals in 1988 before losing to Czechoslovakia.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 10, 2022.

The Canadian Press