Click on the video player above to watch Canada face Italy in the final tie of the Billie Jean King Cup Finals in Seville, Spain.
Canada is a win away from its first Billie Jean King Cup title following Marina Stakusic’s 7-5, 6-3 victory over Martina Travisan of Italy in the opening match of Sunday’s best-of-three final in Seville, Spain.
Leylah Fernandez of Laval, Que., took the first set in her match with Jasmine Paolini.
If needed, the doubles match would see Fernandez team up with Ottawa’s Gabriela Dabrowski against Trevisan and Elisabetta Cocciaretto.
Stakusic took a thrilling first set, 7-5. The 18-year-old held a 4-1 lead in that opener before Trevisan roared back to take a 5-4 lead.
However, Stakusic broke her opponent twice to take the set.
WATCH | Stakusic begins Sunday’s final with straight-sets win over Trevisan:
Only when victory was within her grasp did Stakusic wobble as four match points went adrift as Trevisan served at 2-5.
But she shrugged off that disappointment and powered through her next service game, ending the contest with a crunching off forehand winner.
“I’m so happy and honoured that I was able to play this week,” Stakusic, ranked 258th in the world, told the crowd after her straight-sets win. “This has been the best experience of my life.”
The virtually unknown BJK Cup rookie grabbed headlines early in the tournament. She was selected by Canada captain Heidi El Tabakh over the more experienced Rebecca Marino (ranked 176th) and Eugenie Bouchard (273rd) in the team’s first match Wednesday and beat 65th-ranked Rebeka Masarova 6-3, 6-1.
A day later, Stakusic upset No. 63 Magdalena Frech of Poland 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 to send Canada to the semifinals for the first time in 35 years.
The Italians are seeking their fifth Billie Jean Cup title and first since 2013.