VANCOUVER — Canada’s Rebecca Marino rallied for a gutsy 6-3, 6(4)-7, 6-3 victory over Daniela Vismane of Latvia in a Billie Jean King Cup qualifier on Friday.
The win gave Canada a convincing 2-0 lead after Leylah Fernandez of Laval, Que., downed Darja Seminstaja 6-1, 6-2 to open the series.
Vancouver’s Marino, ranked 111th in the world, used a blistering serve to top Vismane, firing 17 aces across the match and sending one ball soaring over the net at 200 km per hour.
But Marino, Canada’s No. 2 seed in the series struggled with unforced errors at times, making 55 across the two hour, seven minute match.
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.
Marino used her powerful serve to take the first set handily on Friday, but was forced to play from behind in the second, where she made 21 unforced errors.
The crowd remained behind the Canadian, with the most boisterous applause erupting when she sent a return directly down the line to it up at 6-6.
A series of errors cost her in the tie break and Vismane took the set when Marino sent a return well beyond the service line.
The 31-year-old Marino won three of six break points across the match, including one midway through the third set that gave her a 4-2 lead.
She clinched the win with yet another ace.
Fernandez, ranked 21st in the world, dominated her match, firing a single ace and winning seven of nine break points.
She jumped out to an early lead, not allowing Semenistaja, the world No. 389, a single point in the first game.
The Latvian broke her Canadian counterpart’s serve in the third game, but the 19-year-old Fernandez rallied and did not drop another game across the set.
The crowd at Vancouver’s 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 echoed through the stadium 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. She had four double faults and conceded all three break points she faced across the match.
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 will conclude with Canada’s Dabrowski and Carol Zhao taking on Liga Dekmeijere and Diana Marcinkevica in doubles action.