The rivalry between former Billie Jean King Cup champions Italy and France has provided the team competition with some of its most memorable ties over the years. The two powerhouses delivered again on Day 2 of Finals week in Seville, with Italy triumphing 2-1 to get its Group D campaign off to a winning start.
It was the 13th time the two teams had met since 1970, and Italy have won on five occasions — including the two most recent encounters, following a 3-1 victory in the 2022 qualifiers.
This time, they managed to seal the win after a pair of thrilling singles rubbers. Martina Trevisan came from a set down to best Alizé Cornet 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 in 2 hours and 12 minutes, before Jasmine Paolini came from 4-2 down in the third set to defeat Caroline Garcia 7-6(6), 5-7, 6-4 in 2 hours and 39 minutes.
No.30-ranked Paolini had not taken a set from Garcia in four meetings prior to October, but has pulled off narrow escapes against the Frenchwoman twice within the past five weeks. In last month’s Zhengzhou quarterfinals, Paolini saved four match points en route to a 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 victory.
Paolini’s battling spirit saw her win the first set from 5-2 down in the tiebreak, saving a set point along the way, and then twice erase a break deficit in the decider to notch her fourth Top 20 win of the season.
France got on the board in the doubles as Garcia teamed up with Kristina Mladenovic to edge Trevisan and Elisabetta Cocciaretto 5-7, 6-2, [10-6].
Italy will seek to keep their momentum going on Thursday when they take on Germany. Group D will be wrapped up on Friday when Germany faces France.
Fernandez and Stakusic deliver upset over Spain
Canada took control of Group C after winning their opener over Spain. The tie kicked off with an inspired effort from Canadian teenager Marina Stakusic. Ranked No.258 on the Hologic WTA Tour, Stakusic made her Billie Jean King Cup debut one to remember, defeating No.65 Rebeka Masarova 6-3, 6-1 to open the tie. The victory was the 18-year-old’s first Top 100 win of her career.
No.35 Leylah Fernandez followed with a gritty effort to defeat No.33 Sara Sorribes Tormo in two tight tiebreaks, winning 7-6(8), 7-6(7). In a nearly three-hour duel, Sorribes Tormo served for both sets but Fernandez clawed her way back. Facing the prospect of the match going to a third, Fernandez gamely saved two set points in the second-set tiebreak to hand Canada its first win over Spain since 1972.
Canada will face Poland on Thursday.