Another blow for Czechs as Kvitova out of Fed Cup final

Barbora Strycova

Barbora Strycova

Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic will take on Sofia Kenin in the opening match, followed by Katerina Siniakova against American Alison Riske in the second rubber of the opening day on Saturday, according to the draw made on Friday.

Kvitova, current No7 in the world after a stunning year of five titles, has been a stalwart of the Czech team through all five of those title runs, and won all four of the rubbers she played this year. The United States have lifted the trophy a record 18 times.

But, propelled by the sold-out O2 Arena, the four-time Fed Cup victor regained composure in the second to sweep aside the Russian-born Kenin, who is still in search of her maiden WTA singles title. A home player made a great recovery in the second set, fending off all six break points she faced in three straight games and earning breaks in games two and six before closing it with a service victor at 5-1 to gain the momentum and gain an even bigger support from the stands. "It's amusing because it's her (Kenin) first one, and this is my last one, so for me it was a lot of emotions". "I'm just terribly happy I've won".

Kenin admitted she was "a little bit overwhelmed" by her debut. "I'm terribly proud of Katka, she's a fighter".

"I believe in all my players".

Having survived the double scare on her own serve, Siniakova broke in the next.

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

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"I hope I can use this experience", said the 22-year-old Siniakova.

Kenin, who wasted three break points at 5-5, hit 43 winners but also made 76 unforced errors. "But it's not finished yet and we need to be ready for tomorrow". Kathy Rinaldi couldn't count on Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys and Williams sisters, traveling to Prague with the best possible team she could gather but with no big expectations against such strong rivals and the crowd they have.

Although Kvitova missed the opening day's match, she still might recover in time for the reverse singles on Sunday.

Danielle Collins, Sonya Kenin and Nicole Melichar each got one goal, while the entire Czech team totaled three, with two coming from doubles No. 1 Barbora Krejcikova.

"We need to discuss that. It will definitely be easier to put the team together when we're 2-0 up", said Czech captain Petr Pala.

For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.

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