Czechs lead defending champ US 2-0 in Fed Cup final

Kathy Rinaldi

Barbora Strycova came back from a set down to overpower Sofia Kenin and hand the Czech Republic the first point against holders the United States in the Fed Cup final in Prague on Saturday.

Karolina Pliskova was unable to play for her country after an injury she suffered during the WTA Finals in Singapore and we haven't seen Petra Kvitova on the court today as well, with Barbora Strycova kicking off the action with a 6-7 6-1 6-4 win over the debutant Sofia Kenin in two hours and 43 minutes.

The 22-year-old Katerina Siniakova has completed a ideal day for the Czech team, beating Alison Riske 6-3 7-6 in an hour and 38 minutes for her second Fed Cup win over the Americans after toppling Shelby Rogers a year ago in the semi-final.

The Czech Republic have won 10 straight ties at home and, as the dominant force in the competition over the past decade, are looking for a sixth title in eight years.

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

Rinaldi helped the usa past year win an 18th Fed Cup, but first since 2000. They traded breaks in the fourth and fifth games of the second set and again at 5-5, with Siniakova missing a chance to cross the finish line on own serve in game 12.

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Two more singles rubbers and a doubles are scheduled tomorrow, if required.

The final this year features the two most successful teams in the tournament's history, with the U.S. lifting the trophy 18 times.

Alison Riske of the US.

Despite that, she thinks the Czech team - strong favorites against a less experienced American squad -will feel the weight of expectation considering that they will have a partisan home crowd in attendance. She won all four of her singles in the Fed Cup.

It is an 11th overall title for the Czechs, five of which came as the former Czechoslovakia, a haul second only to the United States and their record of 18.

"For me it was a lot of emotions". "For my Fed Cup debut, I was pretty nervous but I was able to handle it once I stepped on the court", Kenin said.

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