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Stakusic, Fernandez send Canada past Poland and into BJK Cup semis

Leylah Fernandez Leylah Fernandez - The Canadian Press

SEVILLE, Spain — Marina Stakusic and Leylah Fernandez earned singles victories over Poland on Thursday to give Canada a semifinal berth at the Billie Jean King Cup Finals.

Stakusic opened with a 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 win over Poland's Magdalena Frech and Fernandez sealed the win in the best-of-three tie with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Magda Linette.

Canada locked up first place in Group C with the singles wins and will play the winner of Group A in Saturday's semifinal at the 12-team competition. The final is scheduled for Sunday.

Montreal's Eugenie Bouchard and Ottawa's Gabriela Dabrowski completed a sweep of the tie with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Weronika Falkowska and Katarzyna Kawa in the doubles match.

Stakusic, who's playing at the women's team tennis event for the first time, also won the singles opener on Wednesday. The Canadians went on to post a 3-0 victory over host Spain.

The 18-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., converted her first match-point opportunity Thursday to give Canada the early lead.

"I'm feeling amazing," she said. "This week so far has been one of the most amazing experiences that I have had. I'm just so happy that I was able to fight today and find a way to pull it out and give Canada the lead."

Stakusic broke Frech's serve in the final game of the second set to force a decider. She faced a triple-break point in the opening game before fighting back to get the hold, then went up 2-0 with another break.

Frech got back on serve with a break to get to 3-4, but the Canadian won the next two games to complete the victory in two hours 49 minutes.

"When I feel like I'm in the zone, I feel like I can play really, really well," she said. "So I just tried to get into the zone (and) stay calm."

Stakusic, who's ranked 258th in the world, had a 52-18 edge in total winners over her 63rd-ranked opponent.

World No. 1 Iga Swiatek is not on the Poland roster. Canada is missing 2019 U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Ont., who has been nursing a back injury.

Poland and Spain will meet in the Group C round-robin finale on Friday.

Canada's deepest run at this tournament was a semifinal appearance in 1988.

Spain will also host the Final 8 stage of the Davis Cup Finals from Nov. 21-26 in Malaga. Canada is the defending champion at the men's team event.

Montreal's Felix Auger-Aliassime headlines a Canadian roster that includes Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., Vasek Pospisil of Vernon, B.C., Montreal's Gabriel Diallo and Alexis Galarneau of Laval, Que.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 9, 2023.