PRAGUE, Czech Republic - The Czech Republic got off to a perfect start at the 2018 Fed Cup final in Prague against the defending champions United States, claiming both rubbers after dramatic victories by Barbora Strycova and Katerina Siniakova to close out the day with a 2-0 lead.
Playing in her final Fed Cup for the Czech Republic, Strycova put on an epic performance to defeat American debutante Sofia Kenin, coming back from a set down to win 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-4.
“It’s funny because it’s her first tie and my last tie,” Strycova told press afterwards. “For me, it was a lot of emotions. I fought for every ball, and I’m so happy that I could win today in front of this crowd - it means a lot to me.”
The 19-year-old American claimed the first set after a dramatic 64 minutes, recovering from a break down and edging ahead during the tightly contested tiebreak. But Strycova struck back in the second, denying Kenin two break points in the first game and soaring ahead to a double break. The final set was a rollercoaster, but Strycova broke early, and held onto the lead to battle past all of Kenin’s determined comeback efforts and claim the victory after two hours and 46 minutes.
Afterwards, Strycova admitted to battling nerves and fighting back tears before and during the emotional match.
“I was crying already in the locker room, and I was like, I don’t want to cry on the court!’ she said. “But then I let it go, because I had kept it inside of me and I needed to somehow just let it out. It was a lot of emotions going through my head, and seeing all the people coming out here was amazing.”
In the second rubber, Siniakova put the hosts ahead to a commanding 2-0 lead after edging past Alison Riske, 6-3, 7-6(2) and claiming the second singles win of her Fed Cup career.
“I was just trying to fight for every point and stay focused every point, just play my game,” Siniakova said. “It was amazing, my first experience was really good so I was happy to go to the court and very excited. I’m happy that I could finish it with a win.”
Siniakova had Riske under pressure from the start, and finally broke through to grab a 3-1 lead. She held that lead to close out the first set, but she had to fight her way back into the second set after going down an early break. They stayed deadlocked until the tiebreaker, where Siniakova pulled ahead to seal the victory.
Her victory puts the Czechs one win away from claiming their 11th Fed Cup crown - and their sixth trophy in the past eight seasons.