Fernandez, Marino put Canada in control at the Billie Jean King Cup

Safeway and Latvia could not have gone as far as the home team in the Billie Jean King Cup playoff of Day One as they took on a 2-0 lead to take on the singles victories of Leylah Annie Fernandez and Rebecca Marino.

Leylah Fernandez waited long enough for her first Billie Jean King Cup match at home, her first win for any longer waiting.

The Canadian No. 1 only needed 53 minutes to give Team Canada a 1-0 lead in their 1-0 win over Latvia, beating Darja Semenistaja 6-1, 6-2.

The winner of the top-five tie-in at the Billie Jean King Cup Finals in November.

Fernandez was back in dialed in, winning 67 percent of her opponent’s service points and winning all seven of her opponent’s service games. The rallies are also belonged to the Canadian, who struck 16 winners to 14 unforced errors, while the right committed 21 unforced errors.

Bolstered by the home crowd, Fernandez came out firing on all the cylinders, relentlessly attacking her opponent’s. In the 23-minute opening set, Semenistaja only won six total points while serving her own, while Fernandez won 13 and broke service each time to the right stepped up line.

That trend continued in the second set, as did Fernandez’s second set with her fourth break of the match.

Like she did in the first set, Semenistaja managed to break right back to the first time she was broken, but she still couldn’t figure out how. Fernandez was dictating her forehand, which produced 12 of her winners, down the line, and will continue to serve the break.

Semenistaja did not go away quietly, twice managing to break back. But each time she struggled consolidate. The second set of 4-3 for a game point, but Fernandez was able to win the next three points with a break and closed out the match with the following game.

Marino hangs tough

Marino had a tough act to follow and she came out for a second singles match. But after shaking off some early rust, the veteran was able to power Daniela Vismane 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3 to give the Canadians a tie on a stranglehold.

Playing in front of her home crowd, Marino blasted 30 winners, 17 aces and won 80 percent of her first serve points. She also confronted three of the six break point chances of saving.

Marino showed some early nerves in a shaky open game where she was broken, but that served as a wake-up call to the British Columbia-native who quickly responded, breaking right away. She would not be broken again in the match.

As the set went on, Marino began to assert himself more and more in the rallies and as the games wore on, more points started to go her way. She was a 5-3 lead for an error into the bullied Vismane, which was enough to take the opening set.

Breakpoint Chances were a pair of scarves in the second set, with Marino getting a pair of looks in the ninth and eleventh games but failed to convert.

Another missed opportunity came in the tiebreak when she took an early 3-0 lead, only to lose six straight points to a triple set point. Marino then missed a routine forehand and sent a second deciding set to match.

Vismane failed to capitalize on her momentum early on in the third game in a double break point opportunity. Marino quickly hit a 4-2 lead to break the line up with a backhand winner to rival a backhand winner, applying the pressure of applying pressure.

Once up front, the Canadian was not going to let the lead slip away, only to drop her two points on the way to the rest of the way and close out the win with back-to-back aces.

Canada’s only needs one victory on Saturday in November’s finals. Fernandez will have the first chance to clinch the win against Vismane, while Marino will take on Semenistaja.

If necessary, the fifth rubber will be the doubles match between Canada’s Gabriela Dabrowski and Carol Zhao and Latvia’s Liga Dekmeijere and Diana Marcinkevica.

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