Czech Republic lead defending champion United States in Fed Cup final

Lynette Rowe
November 13, 2018

Barbora Strycova overpowered Sofia Kenin and Katerina Siniakova beat Alison Riske to hand the Czech Republic a 2-0 lead over holders the United States in the Fed Cup final in Prague on Saturday.

In doubles, the final match of the best-of-five series, Riske and Danielle Collins will play for the United States against the No. 1 doubles pair of Barbora Krejcikova and Siniakova.

To win, the 18-time champion usa would have to become the first team to come back from 2-0 down in the final.

The Czech squad has won 10 times, including five times as Czechoslovakia.

Strycova, the 33rd-ranked Czech number two, will hope to put the first point on the board when she faces 19-year-old Kenin, who is still in search of her maiden WTA singles title, on the hardcourt of Prague's O2 Arena at 1300 GMT on Saturday. "But it's not the end until the final match point is converted".

A 4-1 deficit in the first set proved too much for Riske to recover from, and while she showed fight to break when her opponent was serving for the match in the second, the American fell 6-1 down in a terrible tie-break, Siniakova claiming victory with her second match point.

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In the second match, Siniakova cruised in the first set but fell behind in the second before pulling level at 3-3.

A battling Kenin claimed a dramatic and gruelling opening set that contained four breaks of serve in 64 minutes, a run of four straight points in the tie-break proving crucial.

Americans Serena and Venus Williams, Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens were all unavailable while, for the Czechs, world number eight Karolina Pliskova pulled out with injury and Petra Kvitova was sidelined on the first day with illness.

"I definitely do like the court a lot", she told media just after the draw was made. "I'm so happy that I could win today in front of such a crowd", Strycova said.

The 32-year-old Czech player was more dominant at the net and her stronger serve helped see off the young American. "For my Fed Cup debut, I was pretty nervous but I was able to handle it once I stepped on the court", Kenin said. "I'm so honored to have been part of that match, they really fought hard, the points were incredible, it's just something I never forget".

Twice Wimbledon champion Kvitova, whose training has been limited this week due to a high temperature, could still play on Sunday.

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