Fed Cup final: Czechs take 2-0 lead over United States

Barbora Strycova

In an exciting back-and-forth rubber lasting three hours 45 minutes, Siniakova held off the 19-year-old Fed Cup debutante to give the Czechs a 3-0 win in the final against a United States team who were the defending champions but were missing their top players. Karolina Pliskova was ruled out due to injuries and Petra Kvitova due to illness.

Chances are the two-time Wimbledon champion will not be needed, with the hosts requiring only one more win to put the match beyond their opponents.

In the first two games, Czech player Barbora Strycova rallied to beat American Sofia Kenin 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-4 before her compatriot Katerina Siniakova outlasted Alison Riske 6-3, 7-6 (2).

Their opening day victories ensured the Czech team will take a 2-0 lead into Sunday as they seek a sixth Fed Cup triumph since 2011 against the only the country to have won more titles.

"I was just trying to focus on every point (in the tie-break)", said Siniakova. "I think I definitely do like the court a lot and any time that I'm indoors". But it could be the singles rubbers that determine the result, and fortunately Katerina Siniakova and Barbora Strycova are also ranked 31 and 33 respectively in singles. Should she play, and her team win the title, it would take her to joint third in the overall list of titles won, equalling Rosie Casals' six, and behind only Chris Evert and Billie Jean King.

Whether she does or not, her team are in a commanding position after a successful Saturday was kicked off by Strycova, who started her last Fed Cup tie with a match against a teenager in Kenin, who was making her debut on an illustrious occasion. "I'm really excited to go to the court".

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Led by Kvitova and Pliskova, the Czechs have won five of the last seven editions including all three finals they have played on Prague's hardcourt. It means a lot to me.

The 32-year-old Strycova, who has announced her retirement from Fed Cup duty after the final, struggled with her serve throughout a nervous first set.

The U.S.is the most successful country in the worldwide team competition and won its 18th Fed Cup title past year with Rinaldi in her first season as the captain.

Leading the United States of America campaign, then, will be No36 Danielle Collins, one of three debutantes with No52 Sofia Kenin and No15 Nicole Melichar.

· The USA is into its 30th Fed Cup final, the Czechs into their 12th. "The atmosphere was just incredible".


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