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Czechs, French Into Fed Cup Final

Both Fed Cup semis came down to the wire, but the Czechs held firm to beat the Swiss; a tough and talented French team awaits.

Published April 17, 2016 12:14

Czechs, French Into Fed Cup Final
Karolina Pliskova, Lucie Hradecka

The Fed Cup World Group semifinals came to their thrilling conclusion on Sunday, as the Czech Republic and France each swept the decisive doubles rubber to advance to the 2016 Fed Cup final in November.

Both ties were tied at the end of Day 1, and the Swiss team still appeared poised for a massive upset over the Czechs - who had won four titles in the last five years - but Karolina Pliskova earned a crucial victory in revese singles over Timea Bacsinszky, recovering from her surprising loss to World No.129 Viktorija Golubic, 6-4, 6-2.

Golubic was far from finished, however; playing in front of her home crowd in Lucerne, the 23-year-old pulled off another stunning comeback on Sunday - this time against Barbora Strycova, 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-1. With the tie coming down to the decisive doubles, the momentum looked to be back on the Swiss side - especially with co-No.1 Martina Hingis taking the doubles court with Golubic. But Pliskova had a talented partner of her own in Lucie Hradecka, and the pair managed to put away the Swiss once and for all, 6-2, 6-2.

"Obviously yesterday was a tough match and tough day for me because I didn't expect to lose this one," Pliskova said after the 3-2 victory over Swizerland. "Even physically I was a little bit down. I just had a good dinner, went to sleep and woke up on a new day with new energy and just tried to do my best."

"I am happy with how we played," Hradecka added. "Maybe I expected a closer match but I know if we play fast and we don't give them a lot of time, it would be an advantage for us. It was great and I really enjoyed it."

Over in Trélazé, the Dutch team didn't want their miracle run to end at the hands of the French, pushing the vaunted team to the brink after tying the contest on Saturday. Kiki Bertens went 2-0 in singles when she earned a 7-5, 6-4 win over Kristina Mladenovic, but Caroline Garcia recovered from her Day 1 loss to defeat Richel Hogenkamp, 6-3, 6-4 - forcing the decisive doubles rubber.

Garcia and Mladenovic had just won their first title of 2016 together at the Volvo Car Open, but Bertens and Hogenkamp put up one last resistence as they edged to within six points of victory after taking the second set. The French ultimately proved too strong in the end, taking the rubber and the 3-2 tie, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Led by coach and former Fed Cup stalwart Amélie Mauresmo, France is now into its first Fed Cup final since 2005, the last of three consecutive years where they reached the championship stage (winning in 2003). The Czechs will be looking to win their fifth title in six years, and with Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova possible additions to the team come November, would appear to be the favorites for another Fed Cup trophy.

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