Canada swept hosts Spain 3-0 in the Billie Jean King Cup finals on Wednesday to get off to a strong start in Group C.
Earlier, Italy recorded an impressive 2-1 victory over France in their opening Group D tie, winning both matches.
Canadian rookie Marina Stakusic, 18, beat Rebekah Masarova 6-3, 6-1 in a superb performance before Leylah Fernandez defeated Sara Sorribes 7-6 (10/8), 7-6 (9/ 7) to bring the draw.
Stakusic, ranked 258th in the world, made light work of Masarova, who is 65th for her first win over a top 100 player.
“I feel amazing, I’m very happy with my performance today, I just tried to have a lot of energy from the start and show that I belong here,” Stakusic said.
“It’s definitely my best win… the Canadian fans motivated me so much today, and the Spanish fans too, I love every noise. It was very motivating for me.”
As impressive as Stakusic was, Masarova made 33 unforced errors and was far from her best.
She put the pressure on her teammate Sorribes’ shoulders and perhaps that said as she dropped three set points in the tiebreak before Fernandez finally grabbed a thrilling first set.
Soribes failed to go two more sets in the second set tiebreak and Fernandes triumphed.
“There’s something I need to work on, but my Canadian teammates and my Canadian cheerleading squad here did what they had to do, gave me positivity and helped me through the tough times,” Fernandez said.
“It was extremely difficult, I tried to stay focused on just one point at a time.”
Eugenie Bouchard and Gabriela Dabrowski completed a 6-2, 7-5 doubles win over Sorribes and Masarova.
France won a point in the doubles against Italy, who won both their singles.
Jasmine Paolini beat Caroline Garcia of France 7-6 (8/6), 5-7, 6-4 in a thrilling battle after Martina Trevisan beat Alize Cornet 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 , winning the tie in Italy.
Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic then cruised to a 5-7, 6-2, 10-6 win over Trevisan and Elisabetta Cociaretto.
Four-time winners Italy have now beaten France in five of their last seven meetings, pitting them against two of the tournament’s four ever-present nations, along with Australia and Great Britain.
Trevisan came back strongly from the set to triumph in the first singles rubber.
“I’m very happy to bring the point to my team, when I play for Italy, for my country, it’s always special,” she said.
Cornet said she was not good in the second set.
“I felt really good before and during the first set,” he explained.
“Then my form dropped. I started getting dizzy and I think she changed her strategy and played a lot smarter than the second set.”
Paolini and world number 20 Garcia played out a tight first set with just one break point, which the Italian saved, eventually triumphing in the tiebreak.
In the second set, Garcia made it two set points at 5-4, but immediately recovered Paolini’s break and made no mistake at the third time of asking, forcing a decider.
However, it was Paolini who emerged victorious in a tense finale, winning the last four games to claim victory.
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