The Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Qualifiers concluded on Saturday as Switzerland got the better of Canada by a score of 3-1 at the Swiss Tennis Arena in Biel, Switzerland. The tie was over when over when Gabriela Dabrowski (Ottawa, ON) fell to Jil Teichmann in the fourth singles match.
The final day of action began with a matchup between Leylah Annie Fernandez (Laval, QC) and World No. 5 Belinda Bencic. This was the first time the players had faced each other in their careers. The match began impeccably well for Fernandez as she broke Bencic’s serve three times to settle the first set 6-2. The 17-year-old clearly took confidence from her strong start and forced a break early in the second set, though Bencic broke back to force a tiebreak. Fernandez kept her composure in front of a passionate home crowd to win the tiebreak, taking the set 7-6(3) and, in turn, winning the match.
“I was more aggressive,” Fernandez commented in her press conference following the triumph. “I took the ball earlier, just went for my shots, enjoyed the moment playing Belinda. Otherwise, I just had fun on the court and did my best to get a victory for the team.”
“It was incredible and a little unexpected,” El Tabakh said of Fernandez’s performance. “But I’m so proud of the way she fought and the way she handled her emotions the entire time. She was able to close it off which is not easy against a top 5 player but she proved to herself that’s her level and she belongs there. It gave the team a lot of positive energy, it put us back in the tie.”
The win meant Canada still had a chance of qualifying for the Finals heading into the fourth singles rubber, which pitted Dabrowski against Swiss No. 2 Teichmann. This was the pair’s second meeting following their 2016 clash in Marseille, France which Dabrowski won 6-1, 6-0. The match started with a break of serve for each player before Teichmann took control and went on to win the first set 6-3. The second set included three early breaks of serve, two of which were in favour of Teichmann. Dabrowski broke back to cut the deficit to 5-4 but then couldn’t prevent her opponent forcing another break to close out the set 6-4, the match and the tie.
“I was definitely really close, I had my chances,” Dabrowski said of her performance in her post-match press conference. “Unfortunately, I didn’t take them. I wish I could have played a little bit better in those big moments for sure.”
“Unfortunately, Gaby had a tough match,” El Tabakh commented. “Jil played really, really well. Gaby has been feeling under the weather all week and missed a couple of training days because of illness. She actually played with strep throat. But she gave it her all today, and that’s really all I can ask for. I know she’s disappointed and it’s really tough for her but stuff like that happens. Hopefully our next tie we can have healthy players.”
The doubles rubber was not contested. The loss in Biel means Canada will now compete in the Fed Cup Play-Offs which take place on April 17-18, 2020. Switzerland will advance to the inaugural Fed Cup Finals in Budapest, Hungary, scheduled for April 14-19, 2020.