Team Canada will be one of 12 nations in the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup Finals. On Saturday in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada beat Belgium three matches to two in best-of-five qualifying.
It was quite simply a sensational weekend for Leylah Annie Fernandez of Montreal, Quebec, who contributed to all three of Canada’s wins. On Friday, she defeated Yanina Wickmayer in straight sets, 6-0, 6-3. Then on Saturday, Fernandez beat Ysaline Bonaventure, 4-6, 7-5, 6-2, before teaming up with Gabriela Dabrowski of Ottawa, Ontario to beat Kirsten Flipkens and Greet Minnen 6-1, 6-2 in a deciding women’s doubles match to break the 2-2 deadlock.
The Fernandez/Wickmayer match was a battle between two players that have had prior success at the United States Open. Fernandez reached the final in 2021 before losing to Emma Raducanu of Great Britain, 6-4, 6-3. Wickmayer reached the semifinal in 2009 before losing to Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, 6-3, 6-3. Ironically another Belgian won the 2009 United States Open as Kim Clijsters defeated Wozniacki in the final, 7-5, 6-3.
Flipkens meanwhile is another grand slam semifinalist. She reached the Wimbledon semifinals in 2013 before losing to Marion Bartoli of France, 6-1, 6-2. There is no doubt that Belgium missed Elise Mertens in Vancouver, who did not participate. Mertens, who is 29th in the world, reached the 2018 Australian Open semifinals, before losing to Wozniacki, 6-4, 7-6.