Strycova beats Kenin as Czechs lead US in Fed Cup

Gulf Times Sport - - SPORT -

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 yes­ter­day. Strycova, the world num­ber 33, beat the 52ndranked, 19-year-old Kenin 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-4 in two hours and 43 min­utes, pulling the Czechs closer to a sixth ti­tle out of the last eight edi­tions.

Ka­te­rina Sini­akova, the world num­ber 31, will face 63rd-ranked Ali­son Riske in Satur­day’s sec­ond sin­gles rub­ber.

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

Strycova and Fed Cup debu­tant Kenin earned two breaks each, with the more ag­gres­sive US teenager taking the set in a tie-break.

But, pro­pelled by the sold-out O2 Arena, the four-time Fed Cup win­ner re­gained com­po­sure in the sec­ond to sweep aside the Rus­sian-born Kenin, who is still in search of her maiden WTA sin­gles ti­tle.

Strycova took a 5-2 lead in the third and de­spite giv­ing up two breaks, she took the set 6-4.

“For me it was a lot of emo­tions,” Strycova said on court af­ter the win.

“I fought every ball and I’m so happy that I could win to­day in front of such a crowd. It means a lot to me.

“Every point is very im­por­tant and I’m very happy I could do it to­day.”

The US are miss­ing Sloane Stephens, Ser­ena Wil­liams, Venus Wil­liams and Madi­son Keys, while the Czechs are with­out Karolina Pliskova.

Two-time Wim­ble­don cham­pion Petra Kvi­tova has ended up on the bench with a bad cold, al­though she is hop­ing to play to­day.

Czech Re­pub­lic’s Ka­te­rina Sini­akova re­acts dur­ing her match against Ali­son Riske of the US yes­ter­day.

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