Canada stun holders France as Billie Jean King Cup finals kick off

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Tennis - Billie Jean King Cup - Finals - O2 Arena, Prague, Czech Republic - November 1, 2021 Canada's Gabriela Dabrowski and Rebecca Marino observe aft winning their group stage doubles match against France's Clara Burel and Alize Cornet REUTERS/David W Cerny

PRAGUE, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Canada's Gabriela Dabrowski and Rebecca Marino won the deciding doubles rubber to assistance stun defending champions France 2-1 connected the opening time of the new-look Billie Jean King Cup finals connected Monday.

Formerly called the Fed Cup, the lawsuit was renamed past twelvemonth successful honour of American 12-time large victor King and restructured into a 'World Cup of tennis' format concluding with 12 nations competing implicit 1 week for the title.

Canada were the past of 12 teams to marque the cut, replacing erstwhile hosts Hungary successful the gully owed to their presumption arsenic the highest-ranked broadside to triumph a playoff necktie successful April this year.

It was the 5th gathering betwixt the French and Canadians - the archetypal successful 28 years - with the holders heading into the Centre Court contention astatine the O2 arena with a 3-1 head-to-head advantage.

At the commencement France's Fiona Ferro, who reached a career-high ranking of 39 earlier this year, intelligibly looked the superior subordinate successful her archetypal gathering against the 353rd-ranked Francoise Abanda, rapidly going up by a acceptable and a break.

But Abanda dug heavy to instrumentality down Ferro 4-6 6-4 6-4 for her 5th consecutive triumph successful the competition.

Alize Cornet, the highest ranked French singles subordinate astatine 59th, managed to stave disconnected the big-hitting Marino 6-4 7-6(5) to level the necktie astatine 1-1.

But Marino soon had her revenge arsenic she returned alongside Dabrowski, the satellite fig 5 successful doubles, to bushed Cornet and Clara Burel 6-3 7-6(6) successful the deciding rubber.

With the Russian Tennis Federation, whose full squad is ranked successful the apical 50, the 3rd Group A team, France volition look an uphill task to marque it to the semi-finals.

The sides play 2 group-stage ties to find the winners of the 4 three-team groups, who advancement to the semi-finals.

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In Belgium's Group B necktie against Belarus, Greet Minnen and Elise Mertens won their singles rubbers to seal the necktie successful the beingness of a sizeable fig of Belgian fans, who came with drums, trumpets and different philharmonic instruments connected Court One.

Minnen celebrated her debut successful the contention with a commanding show, the 24-year-old handing Belgium the archetypal constituent with a 6-2 6-2 triumph implicit the 263rd-ranked Iryna Shymanovich.

World fig 18 Mertens staved disconnected a spirited fightback from Aliaksandra Sasnovich for a 6-2 4-6 6-2 triumph and sealed the necktie against the Belarusians, who are missing satellite fig 2 Aryna Sabalenka and aggregate large victor Victoria Azarenka successful Prague.

Mertens, victor of 3 large doubles titles, and Kirsten Flipkens could not marque it 3-0 for Belgium successful the doubles rubber, however, going down 6-4 6-3 to Sasnovich and Vera Lapko.

Australia are the 3rd squad successful Group B.

In the evening session, hosts Czech Republic, who person won the rubric six times since 2011, statesman their run against Group D rivals Germany portion Spain conscionable Slovakia successful Group C.

Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly successful Mumbai; editing by Ken Ferris

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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