STUTTGART, Germany - Behind a pair of straight-set victories by its Top 10 stars, Czech Republic made an emphatic statement in Germany on the first day of the Fed Cup semifinals at the Porsche Arena.
Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova earned singles wins over Julia Goerges and Angelique Kerber, respectively, to give the 10-time Fed Cup champions a 2-0 lead heading into Sunday's action.
Despite trailing 3-1 early in the first set of the opening rubber against Goerges, Kvitova turned up the heat in stunning fashion for the rest of the match and won nine of the last 11 games to clinch both a 6-3, 6-2 victory and a 1-0 lead for the visiting side.
Pliskova followed in due course and earned her second career win against the former World No.1 and two-time Grand Slam champion Kerber in their first-ever meeting on clay, 7-5, 6-3.
“I put the pressure on her by making sure I was putting the return in,” Kvitova told reporters after the match, per fedcup.com's Nick McCarvel.
“She started to miss a lot, but I didn’t give her any time for (her) good shots...I didn’t panic. She started to miss her serve more and made a few double faults.”
Playing her first-ever rubber as Germany's No.1, Goerges settled in to start in front of her home faithful and broke the Czech in her second service game of the match.
However, Kvitova bounced back in grand fashion and won the last five games of the opener to take a one-set lead,
The lefty's sizzling form continued in the second set, as she won 16 of 18 points played in four games from 1-1 to build a 5-1 lead, and later served out the match to love.
It was the Czech's brillance on serve after the initial break that was the story of her 63-minute victory: the lefty won 84 percent of points behind her first serve for the match, and dropped just two points behind her delivery in total in the entirety of the second set.
Serving also defined the start of the second rubber between the two teams, as the first 11 games of the match between Pliskova and Kerber went by without a break and both players faced just one break point combined.
However, it was Pliskova who struck first on return in the final game before a tiebreak; the Czech found her range on return and won a highlight-reel point with a sliced forehand winner down-the-line to help build a set point, and she pocketed the opening set in just under 50 minutes.
It was more of the same for the Czech in the second set, who did not face a break point for the entire match, as she made a lone break of her own in the sixth game stand up.
Kerber's best chance in a return game came in the seventh game of the set, as she pushed her fellow former World No.1 to deuce five times in the game, but came away empty-handed.
“It was one of the best matches I played this year with my serve,” Pliskova said. “A lot of aces and points on my first serve. It’s important against a player like Angie who doesn’t give you a lot of free points. I think it would have been much harder without the serve.”
Germany will need to win both of Sunday's reverse singles to keep their bid for November's Fed Cup final alive and force a live fifth doubles rubber, as Goerges is slated to face Pliskova followed by Kerber against Kvitova.