Karolina Pliskova overcame France's Kristina Mladenovic in the longest set in Fed Cup final history to give the Czech Republic the first victory, 6-3, 4-6, 16-14.
WTA Staff

STRASBOURG, France - Karolina Pliskova overcame France's Kristina Mladenovic in the longest set in Fed Cup final history to give the Czech Republic the first victory, 6-3, 4-6, 16-14.

"I heard that it's the longest one!" Pliskova told FedCup.com after the record-setting match. "I was just looking at the score and just counting the games and we were still continuing.

"Unbelievable match from both of us. My tennis was maybe not 100 per cent, but it still counts as a win. Really happy that we got the first point."

Walking into the first rubber of the 2016 Fed Cup final, Pliskova and Mladenovic's head-to-head record was split at one win apiece and the pair had to set their long friendship aside in hopes of giving their team the early advantage.

Mladenovic suffered a break of serve in the nervy opening game, misfiring a backhand and later double-faulting to hand Pliskova the first lead. The surface seemed to suit Pliskova as well, as the Czech enjoyed the high bounce of the court at the Rhenus Sport Arena to wreak havoc with her big serve.

After Mladenovic leveled the set at 3-3, Pliskova found another gear and dropped just one point on her serve as she broke twice to take the first set 6-3.

The Frenchwoman had the home crowd roaring as she charged back in the second set. Mladenovic earned the first break at 4-3, and then weathered two consecutive breaks to emerge with the edge and the set.

Kristina Mladenovic

Pliskova wrestled the momentum away as she quickly climbed to a 5-2 lead in the final set. Mladenovic was two points away from losing the match as Pliskova continued to hammer her vulnerable second serve and run her around the court, but she fended off the assault to claw her way back into the match and get back on serve.

With her back against the wall, Mladenovic rallied the French crowd and kept herself in the match time and time again and, with no final set tiebreak in Fed Cup, the match continued. Mladenovic fought past fatigue and cramping - and saved two match points with a gutsy dropshot and a zinging crosscourt backhand - to hold for 9-9, but the final set was barely getting started.

Pliskova stayed cool despite it all, trading breaks at 12-12 as the pair blew past the Fed Cup final record for longest set ever played. After a monumental three hours and forty-eight minutes (two hours and 23 minutes in the final set alone), Mladenovic finally blinked in the last game, being broken to love to put an end to the thrilling match and hand the Czech Republic a vital 1-0 lead.

"I feel fresh, actually! But no, it's my longest match that I've played ever, so I'm really happy with the way I ended," Pliskova laughed afterwards, speaking to FedCup.com.

"I was really waiting for my chance. And she was serving so well in the third set that I didn't really have that many chances. I'm just happy with the win."

Karolina Pliskova

- All photos courtesy of Getty Images