Leylah Annie Fernandez

The first day of the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Qualifiers came to a close on Friday with Team Canada trailing 2-0 to Switzerland following the first two singles matches of the tie at the Swiss Tennis Arena in Biel, Switzerland.

The day commenced with Canadian Leylah Annie Fernandez (Laval, QC) facing Swiss No. 2 Jil Teichmann, ranked No. 68 in the world. This was the first meeting between the two players. It was a tough start for Fernandez, who lost the first ten points. The 17-year-old showed great resilience to come back and force a tiebreak, but she would go on to lose the first set 7-6(4). The second set included five breaks of serve in total, three of which went the way of Teichmann as she claimed it 6-4.

“It’s never easy to lose,” commented Fernandez. “Everybody wants to win, I wanted to win but it’s a learning experience for me too, to see how my game is against a top 100. It’s getting better and better and now I just need to fix those little mistakes.”

Eugenie Bouchard (Montreal, QC) was forced to pull out of the day’s second rubber with a wrist injury, meaning Gabriela Dabrowski (Ottawa, ON) was drafted into singles action to face Swiss No. 1 Belinda Bencic, who is ranked No. 5 in the world. Dabrowski and Bencic had never played each other prior to this meeting. It proved to be a difficult start for Dabrowski as she dropped serve twice before going on to lose the first set. The second set began with another break from Bencic but Dabrowski then held firm until the eighth game when the Swiss broke again before sealing the 6-1, 6-2 victory.

“I was excited to play,” said Dabrowski. “But I’ve played two singles matches this year and, in my pre-season, I played one baseline game and that was my singles prep for today. So, unfortunately I couldn’t give more.”

Regarding her injury, Bouchard said: “I was disappointed to have to pull out of my Fed Cup match today. I sustained a wrist injury during practice yesterday. We will re-evaluate it for tomorrow. Meanwhile, I’ll be cheering on Team Canada.”

Those results mean that Canada must win their opening two matches of the tie’s second day in order to give themselves a chance of booking their place at the inaugural Fed Cup Finals in Budapest.

“It was a tough day for us,” Captain Heidi El Tabakh reflected. “Unfortunately, Genie couldn’t play. She had a wrist injury and we had to make a last-minute decision. I thought Leylah played really well, she fought really hard. She still lacks experience against top 100 players but she gave her all out there and I’m really proud of her. Gaby played against a top 5 player who was on fire today. But we have tomorrow. I’m excited to see Leylah play against Belinda, it’ll be a great experience for her.”

The two teams will take to the court again tomorrow at 1 p.m. local time, when Fernandez will face Bencic before Bouchard takes on Teichmann. Those matches will be followed by the doubles rubber as Dabrowski and Bianca Andreescu (Mississauga, ON) of Canada come up against Swiss duo Viktorija Golubic and Stefanie Voegele.