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Fernandez edges out Vismane as Canada sweep Latvia to advance to Billie Jean King Cup final

Canada advanced to the Billie Jean King Cup final after Leylah Fernandez beat Latvian Daniela Vismane 6-2, 6-1 in a qualifying match in Vancouver on Saturday.

The result gave the Canadians a 3-0 sweep of the series after Fernandez beat Latvian No. 2 seed Darja Semenistaja 6-1, 6-2 on Friday and Canada’s second seed Rebecca Marino fought Vismane at 6-3, 6-7 (4), win 6-3.

Fernandez, ranked 21st in the world, took five of eight break points and won 76% of her first service points against Vismane, the world No. 230.

Vismane played an athletic game, sprinting all over the pitch and varying her shot placement, but the 19-year-old Fernandez held on and conceded no breakthrough during the hour-long match.

Canada entered the indoor hard court qualifier sitting ninth in the Billie Jean King Cup standings while Latvia was 14th.

Last year, Canada stunned France in the round robin of the tournament before losing to the Russian Tennis Federation.

Latvia are in the qualifiers without two of their best players, including world number 11 Jelena Ostapenko, who suffered a wrist injury at the Miami Open.

Anastasija Sevastova is also out after announcing in January that she was taking a break from tennis to deal with an undisclosed illness.

Latvia lost to the United States in the qualifiers last year.

Fernandez, a native of Laval, Que., was focused and patient as she took on the top seeded Latvian on Saturday.

The determination paid off early when the young Canadian planted a long bomb near the service line, well out of her opponent’s reach to go up 1-0.

Midway through the set, Fernandez opened up a game with a slick cross shot near the net, then followed it up with an ace, depriving Vismane of a single point en route to a 5-1 lead.

The 21-year-old Latvian rallied in the following game, using her speed to extend a rally that saw both players criss-crossing the pitch, making seemingly impossible shots. Vismane prevailed and cut Fernandez’s lead to 5-2.

The second set saw Fernandez take a 4-1 lead on a well-placed return. Last year’s US Open runner-up celebrated with an enthusiastic shout and a punch before joining Canadian captain Heidi El Tabakh on the sidelines for a break between matches.

Fernandez closed the set with a solid comeback and celebrated with another big fist pump before shaking hands with the entire Latvian box and greeting everyone in the Canadian box.

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