Kenin to open Fed Cup fi­nal for US against Strycova

Malta Independent - - Sport -

Amer­ica's chances of re­tain­ing the Fed Cup this week­end im­proved on Fri­day when two-time Wim­ble­don cham­pion Petra Kvi­tova was ruled out of the open­ing sin­gles for the Czech Re­pub­lic due to ill­ness.

Kvi­tovsa was the sec­ond top-10 player lost to the Czechs, af­ter Karolina Pliskova was ruled out last Satur­day by calf and wrist in­juries.

The Czechs won the Fed Cup in five of the pre­vi­ous seven years, and Kvi­tova con­trib­uted to each one to sit fourth among women with the most Fed Cup tro­phies.

But she fell ill af­ter the WTA Fi­nals in Sin­ga­pore and didn't train this week due to a high tem­per­a­ture. She still might re­cover in time to play the re­verse sin­gles on Sun­day.

"Chances are still there (for me to play)," Kvi­tova said af­ter the draw on Fri­day. "I'm feel­ing a bit bet­ter. We're go­ing to de­cide (that) to­mor­row."

Kvi­tova re­turned to the team this year af­ter re­cov­er­ing from in­juries she suf­fered dur­ing a knife at­tack at her home in December 2016. She won all four of her sin­gles in the Fed Cup.

"It's un­usual, that never hap­pened be­fore," cap­tain Petr Pala said about los­ing his best two play­ers. "But still I think we're the fa­vorites. I'm still very con­fi­dent about my team."

United States cap­tain Kathy Ri­naldi said she also be­lieved in her play­ers.

"We were pre­par­ing for ev­ery­one," she said. "The Czech Re­pub­lic has a long list of great play­ers to choose from. We're ready to com­pete."

Ri­naldi helped the U.S. last year win an 18th Fed Cup, but first since 2000.

For this fi­nal, three U.S. play­ers will make their Fed Cup de­buts. Only Ali­son Riske has par­tic­i­pated be­fore, in three ties.

Sofia Kenin is sched­uled to play Barbora Strycova in the open­ing sin­gles on Satur­day on an in­door hard­court at the O2 Arena.

"I'm re­ally look­ing for­ward to the ex­pe­ri­ence," the 19-year-old Kenin said. "It's a once-in-al­ife­time op­por­tu­nity."

Riske was drawn to play Ka­te­rina Sini­akova in the sec­ond sin­gles. The two met three times be­fore at WTA tour­na­ments, with Sini­akova lead­ing 2-1.

"I'm re­ally look­ing for­ward to it," Riske said. "We've had a great week of prac­tice, and the pressure is on them. It will be a fun day."

Sini­akova said: "I'm ex­pect­ing a tough match. Every match was tough with her."

In Sun­day's re­verse sin­gles, Kenin will go against Sini­akova, and Riske will meet Strycova.

In dou­bles, the last match of the fi­nal, Riske and Danielle Collins are sched­uled to meet No. 1ranked pair Barbora Kre­j­cikova and Sini­akova.

The Czechs have never beaten the Amer­i­cans in the Fed Cup as an in­de­pen­dent na­tion. Their last vic­tory was in 1985 as Cze­choslo­vakia, which won five ti­tles.

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