Preview: Canada v Italy12/11/2023 04:54
The 2023 Billie Jean King Cup by Gainbridge final promises to be an electrifying affair between two nations that have lit up Seville during a pulsating Finals
By Ross McLean
What’s at stake?
Italy and Canada will contest the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup by Gainbridge final with the winners earning the title of world champions.
For Canada, this will be their first ever final in the women’s World Cup of Tennis having navigated a pulsating semi-final with 11-time champions Czechia on Friday which went the distance and was decided by doubles.
Should they triumph, they will become the 13th different nation to win Billie Jean King Cup and the second new champion in consecutive years after Switzerland won their first title in Glasgow 12 months ago.
Italy, meanwhile, have topped the Billie Jean King Cup podium on four previous occasions but this will be their first final since 2013, when they last won the competition. The Italians arrived at the final following a last-four victory over Slovenia.
As well as the title, there is also the small matter of record prize money at stake for the winning nation – and an equivalent level of prize money to that which will be awarded at the 2023 Davis Cup Finals.
Thanks to the support of title sponsor Ganinbridge, the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup Finals will offer an unprecedented Player Prize Money purse of $9.6m.
The 2023 world champions are set to receive a record $2.4m as part of the ITF’s Advantage All programme to drive value for the women’s game.
The winning nation will also don the iconic Billie Blue jackets, designed by official Billie Jean King Cup apparel partner Tory Burch.
This will be the fifth Billie Jean King Cup meeting between Canada and Italy – and their second in consecutive years.
Canada recorded a 3-0 victory against Italy in the group stage of the 2022 Finals in Glasgow, with Bianca Andreescu and Leylah Fernandez recording singles victories against Elisabetta Cocciaretto and Martina Trevisan. Fernandez then partnered Gabriela Dabrowski to a doubles win against Lucia Bronzetti and Jasmine Paolini.
Canada lead the head-to-head rivalry 3-1 having also won ties against Italy in 1971 and 1995.
Who to look out for?
Fernandez has been one on the standout performers at the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup Finals and has now won 15 of the last 16 matches she has contested in the competition. She appears on a mission to guide Canada to their maiden title.
The Montreal-born 21-year-old will equal Eugenie Bouchard, Stephanie Dubois and Sonya Jeyaseelan in third place on the list for most Billie Jean King Cup match-wins by a Canadian player if she wins another singles match today.
While Fernandez has been a remarkable influence for Canada, her partnership with Dabrowski in doubles was shown to withstand intense pressure as the duo defeated seven-time Grand Slam doubles champions Barbora Krejcokova and Katerina Siniakova in the semi-finals.
Canada know that if the final goes the distance then they have a doubles pairing that is capable of hauling them over the line.
For Italy, this week has largely been about Paolini and Trevisan, who have been simply brilliant on and off court – as has the entire Italian team – and produced some stunning performances.
Team Italy have conducted themselves with style and panache in Seville and, whatever the result in the final, deserve all the plaudits they receive at the end of a season which has seen all five team members attain career-best singles rankings.
Who is saying what?
Italy captain Tathiana Garbin: “It’s a dream come true because we all dream about the final. I think we just realised that we are in the final maybe now. It is a very good dream.
“We came three years ago from the very ground, and we grow up a little bit every year. This year we came here with all best ranking of my players, so we have to be really happy. The Federation is very happy for what these girls are doing every day.”
Canada’s Leylah Fernandez: “It’s a final, so we are going to leave it all out there. Hopefully with fingers crossed and if stars align, we can lift the trophy. We are going to bring the same team spirit, work ethic and fight as against Czechia.”