Fed Cup: Barbora Strycova and Katerina Siniakova move Czechs in front

Kathy Rinaldi

Barbora Strycova will launch the Czech Republic's Fed Cup victory bid on Saturday when she faces American Sofia Kenin in the opening match on Saturday.

The American teenager gave her best to earn her first Fed Cup win but she had no strength for one last push in the deciding set, handing Strycova her 22nd Fed Cup triumph (she made a debut when Sofia was three-year-old).

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

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. She has won four Fed Cups.

But Strycova was not broken as she romped to the second set and claimed what proved to be a tense decider having briefly stumbled from a commanding position at 5-2 in front of a patriotic home crowd.

"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".

"It was an incredible game for me, up and down, lots of nerves", Siniakova said.

"Every point is very important and I'm very happy I could do it today".

The US, eyeing a record-extending 19th title, are missing Sloane Stephens, Serena Williams and Madison Keys.

The two most successful countries in the tournament's history are facing off in a final for the first time in more three decades but both are without their top players.

An eventful opener set the tone as the two players combined for seven breaks of serve, Siniakova finally taking it in the 12th game on her third set-point opportunity. "I was just enjoying the moment and trying to play my game", Siniakova said.

Riske was selected ahead of Danielle Collins, who is ranked above her, but was unable to get the USA back on level terms against Siniakova. She evened the match with a forehand victor past Siniakova for set point. "We'll see what happens - we're prepared, we're ready to go".

"Despite everything, we're still the favourites because our girls are great players", Czech captain Petr Pala told reporters.



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