BJK Cup Finals: Canada on top of the world

Canada matched their male compatriots, who are the current Davis Cup champions.

Team Canada BJK Cup 2023©Raul Caro/EPA/MAXPPP
 - Alex Sharp

Last November it was the likes of Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov celebrating as Canada won the Davis Cup.

Fast forward a year and Canada's women are world champions for the first time in the Billie Jean King Cup.

Perfect from start to finish

Inspired by taliswoman Leylah Fernandez and captained by Heidi El Tabakh, Canada were imperious in Seville, Spain, with a 2-0 scoreline over Italy capping a milestone week at the Estadio de La Cartuja.

Teenager Marina Stakusic's breakout was finished with a 7-5, 6-3 victory against Martina Trevisan, before Fernandez commanded proceedings 6-2, 6-3 to defeat Jasmine Paolini.

Moments later teammates and support staff were bouncing up and down together, the jubilant celebrations representing a tight-knit, cohesive set of champions.

Canada had topped their group by brushing Poland and Spain aside 3-0 and then took down 11-time winners Czech Republic 2-1 in the semi-finals.

2021 US Open finalist Fernandez was turbo-charged all week, continuing her recent exemplary form to spearhead the title run by winning all five of her matches across singles and doubles in Seville.

A key victory came on Saturday as the 21-year-old navigated past Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova in three absorbing sets. Full of energy, brimming with passion, Fernandez couldn't have given more to the Canadian cause.

“I’m extremely happy, ecstatic,” said world No.36 Fernandez. “It’s the first time that Canada has ever won Billie Jean King Cup and I can finally say, ‘we’re world champions’, and we deserve it. 

“We have worked really hard these past years and, as I have said before, every year we just keep improving and it’s showing on the tennis court. It is showing in competitions and now it has shown on the biggest stage in the world.”

El Tabakh's squad also included experienced trio Eugenie Bouchard, Gabriela Dabrowski and Rebecca Marino, alongside Stakusic's head-turning debut.

The world No.258 won three of her four singles duels to announce herself onto the world stage, only falling to 2021 Roland-Garros winner Barbora Krejcikova

“It’s fair to say that a champion is born this week,” declared El Tabakh, referring to Stakusic's heroics. “She exceeded everyone’s expectations. But with that said, I’m very, very, very proud of her and the way she showed up for the team. 

“I’m so incredibly proud and it’s been a pleasure sharing the court with them all week. Everyone who is here currently has been a huge asset to the Canadian team throughout the years. We wouldn’t be here without every single one of them.”

Referring to their journey together, Dabrowski is a true stalwart for the Canadians, ever since her debut versus Peru in February 2013.

“It means so much,” said Dabrowski, who played a significant role having secured the decisive doubles with Fernandez facing formidable Czech duo Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova.

“It’s an incredibly special moment to share with everyone sitting here. Everyone has put in blood sweat and tears, literally.

“It’s like a weight has been lifted off our shoulders. I feel like we have been a top team for many years now, but to be able to put that into action is incredible. Having this format has made it even more possible for us to get this title – I love the World Cup of Tennis."