Tennis

Canada upsets defending champion France at Billie Jean King Cup

Canada won the decisive doubles match to secure a 2-1 upset victory over defending champion France in Group A of the Billie Jean King Cup finals on Monday.

353th-ranked Francoise Abanda rallies to beat Fiona Ferro

Francoise Abanda of Canada reacts after winning against Fiona Ferro of France during the Billie Jean King Cup finals on Monday. (Michal Cizek/Getty Images)

Canada won the decisive doubles match to secure a 2-1 upset victory over defending champion France in Group A of the Billie Jean King Cup finals on Monday.

Spain staged a comeback to beat Slovakia 2-1 for the first time after two losses, including the 2002 final. Also, the Czech Republic prevailed in the doubles to overcome Germany 2-1 in Group D, and Belgium beat Belarus 2-1 on the hard courts at the O2 Arena.

After the two nations split the opening singles matches, Ottawa's Gabriela Dabrowski and Vancouver's Rebecca Marino defeated Lara Burel and Alize Cornet 6-3, 7-6 (6).

In the opening singles, the 353th-ranked Francoise Abanda of Montreal rallied from a set down to upset Fiona Ferro, ranked 105th, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 to put Canada ahead.

"I was a little bit nervous at the beginning," Abanda said. "I'm happy it turned out in my favour."

Cornet tied it at 1-1 after a 6-4, 7-6 (5) victory over Marino.

It was the second victory for Canada over France in the competition in five matchups, with the previous one coming in 1980.

Canada is competing in Prague without its two top-ranked players, world No. 24 Bianca Andreescu and No. 26 Leylah Fernandez.

WATCH | Canada stuns defending champion France at BJK Cup:

Canada upsets defending champs France at Billie Jean King Cup Finals

2 years ago
Duration 3:31
Ottawa's Gabriela Dabrowski and Vancouver's Rebecca Marino beat Alize Cornet and Clara Burel in the deciding doubles match 6-3, 7-6 (6) to win their opening tie 2-1 at the Billie Jean King Cup Finals in Prague.

Tournament honours Billie Jean King

Belgium's Greet Minnen defeated Iryna Shymanovich 6-2, 6-2 and Elise Mertens overcame a second-set scare to beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 for an insurmountable 2-0 lead.

In doubles, Vera Lapko and Aliaksandra Sasnovich teamed up to take a consolation 6-4, 6-3 victory over Kirsten Flipkens and Mertens.

On Tuesday, Canada faces Russia and Belgium takes on Australia.

The competition, formerly known as the Fed Cup, was renamed last year to honour Billie Jean King and her lifelong battle for equality and social justice.

WATCH | Francoise Abanda comes through for Canada:

Francoise Abanda upset gives Canada lead over France at Billie Jean King Cup

2 years ago
Duration 3:12
353rd-ranked Francoise Abanda of Montreal upset 105th-ranked Fiona Ferro 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 to give Canada a 1-0 lead in their opening Billie Jean King Cup tie in Prague.

Lucie Hradecka and Tokyo Games doubles winner Katerina Siniakova joined forces to beat Germany's Anna-Lena Friedsam and Jule Niemeier 6-4, 6 (2)-7, 10-8.

Earlier, three-time Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber came from a set down to defeat French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova 6 (5)-7, 6-0, 6-4 to level the tie at 1-1.

"To be here again, it's a great feeling," said Kerber, who was on Germany's team that lost to the Czechs in the 2014 final at the same arena.

Marketa Vondrousova dispatched Andrea Petkovic 6-1, 6-3 to give the Czechs the first point. The Tokyo Olympics runner-up dominated their first encounter, breaking Petkovic five times and dropping her serve once. She converted her first match point with a forehand winner.

"I was just playing my game, trying to do my best, so I'm happy," Vondrousova said. "It's just an amazing feeling to play for my country and also at home."

Spain's Sara Sorribes Tormo and Carla Suarez Navarro completed the comeback against Slovakia by topping Viktoria Kuzmova and Tereza Mihalikova 4-6, 6-2, 10-7.

Slovakia led 1-0 after Kuzmova hit nine aces and added 27 winners in beating Suarez Navarro 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

Suarez Navarro returned to professional tennis following chemotherapy treatments for Hodgkin lymphoma at the French Open and has announced this will be her last season on tour.

Sorribes Tormo also needed three sets to make it 1-1 with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 win over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

Spain plays the United States on Tuesday while German meets Switzerland.

The tournament was originally scheduled to take place in Budapest, Hungary in April 2020 but was postponed for 12 months because of the pandemic. In February, it was postponed again.

Organizers were then forced to find a new host — Prague — when Budapest backed out in May, citing lingering COVID-19 concerns.

The 12 teams in the finals are divided into four groups of three teams. Only the group winners advance to Friday's semifinals.

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