Canada’s Leylah Fernandez took a swift straight-sets victory over Darja Semenistaja of Latvia to open a Billie Jean King Cup qualifier on Friday.
The 19-year-old from Laval, Que., deftly transitioned between a powerful forehand and deceptive backhand to win 6-1, 6-2 in just 53 minutes.
Fernandez fired a single ace and won seven of nine break points across the match. She struggled at times, though, with four double faults and conceded all three break points she faced.
Fernandez, ranked 21st in the world, came into the match as Canada’s top seed in the competition while No. 389 Semenistaja is Latvia’s second seed.
Later on Friday, Vancouver’s Rebecca Marino will face Latvia’s No. 1 seed Daniela Vismane.
The series will continue Saturday with two more singles matches and a doubles match. The winner of the qualifier will advance to the finals in November.
Fernandez jumped out to an early lead Friday, not allowing Semenistaja a single point in the first game.
The Latvian broke her Canadian counterpart’s serve in the third game, but Fernandez rallied and did not drop another game across the set.
The crowd at the Pacific Coliseum gasped later in the set as Fernandez streaked across the court to dig out a return and sent a backhanded shot across the court. Cheers erupted as the ball landed just inside the line to give Canada the game and a 5-1 lead.
Fernandez began to falter midway through the second set.
Up 4-1, she double faulted then struggled with her returns, failing to notch a point as Semenistaja took her third break of the match.
The Canadian caught a break in the next game when Semenistaja sent a return into the net, then put a ball long on the next point, giving Fernandez a 5-2 lead.
The runner-up at last year’s U.S. Open, Fernandez closed out the match without allowing her opponent a single point in the final game.
Fernandez is set to take on Vismane on Saturday, followed by a matchup between Semenistaja and Mariano. The series with Canada’s Dabrowski and Carol Zhao taking on Liga Dekmeijere and Diana Marcinkevica in doubles action.
This content appears as provided to The Globe by the originating wire service. It has not been edited by Globe staff.