Russia's Daria Kaasatkina returns a ball to Canada's Carol Zhao during their group A Billie Jean King Cup finals tennis match in Prague, Czech Republic, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Canada eliminated at BJK Cup finals with loss to Russia

Canada eliminated at BJK Cup finals with loss to Russia

PRAGUE, Czech Republic — Russia brought Canada to earth by winning their Billie Jean King Cup tie 3-0 on Tuesday.

Canada’s confidence was boosted the day before when it upset defending champion France, but Russia with all of its players in the top 50 was too strong.

Daria Kasatkina eased past Carol Zhao of Richmond Hill, Ont., in straight sets, and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova clinched the win overcoming Vancouver’s Rebecca Marino 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.

“In the second set, the chances (to win) were 50-50 and I’m just happy with the third set,” Pavlyuchenkova said.

Russia’s dominance was completed in the doubles where Veronika Kudermetova and Liudmila Samsonova defeated Ottawa’s Gabriela Dabrowski and Marino 6-3, 6-1.

Russia completes Group A against France on Wednesday.

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

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

In Group B, 2019 runner-up Australia opened its account beating Belgium 2-0.

After Daria Gavrilova’s three-set win over Greet Minnen, the 131st-ranked Storm Sanders on debut came from a set down to stun 18th-ranked Elise Mertens 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-0. Sanders converted her second match point with the last of her 35 winners.

“That was a most incredible feeling, I’m still shaking,” Sanders said.

Australia next plays Belarus on Thursday. Belgium beat Belarus 2-1 on Monday.

Later Tuesday, the United States got started against Slovakia, while Germany played Switzerland.

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Karel Janicek, The Associated Press

Tennis