BIEL, Switzerland — Switzerland won the first two rubbers Friday in its best-of-five Fed Cup qualifier against Canada at the Swiss Tennis Arena.
Jil Teichmann opened with a 7-6 (4), 6-4 win over Leylah Annie Fernandez of Laval, Que., and fifth-ranked Belinda Bencic followed with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Ottawa's Gabriela Dabrowski 6-1, 6-2 in the other singles match on the indoor hardcourt.
"She's a great player and I (made) some great shots too, I just missed a few important ones in the first and second set and that cost me the match," said Fernandez, who's ranked 185th in the world.
Dabrowski, a doubles specialist, filled in for Eugenie Bouchard of Westmount, Que., who sat out with a left wrist injury.
"I was excited to play," said Dabrowski. "But I've played two singles matches this year and in my pre-season I played one baseline game and that was my singles prep for today. So unfortunately I couldn't give more."
It will be a must-win scenario for Canada the rest of the way. Reverse singles and the doubles match were on tap Saturday.
"It was a tough (opening) day for us," said Canadian captain Heidi El Tabakh. "Unfortunately, Genie couldn't play. She had a wrist injury and we had to make a last-minute decision. I thought Leylah played really well, she fought really hard. She still lacks experience against top-100 players but she gave her all out there and I'm really proud of her.
"Gaby played against a top-five player who was on fire today. But we have tomorrow. I'm excited to see Leylah play against Belinda, it'll be a great experience for her."
Bouchard said she sustained a wrist injury during a practice session on Thursday. She will be re-evaluated Saturday.
Dabrowski, ranked seventh in doubles but 448th in singles, was tabbed to meet the 68th-ranked Teichmann in the other reverse singles match.
Reigning U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu, the world No. 6 from Mississauga, Ont., was not selected for singles play due to a lingering knee injury. She hasn't played a competitive match since suffering a left knee injury at the WTA Finals over three months ago.
Andreescu was still tabbed to play doubles with Dabrowski. If needed, teams can substitute players up to an hour before the match.
The Canada-Switzerland winner advances to the inaugural Fed Cup Finals in Budapest in April.
The losing team will fall into a playoff tie in April against a Regional Group I nation for a chance to reach the 2021 qualifiers.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 7, 2020.
The Canadian Press