Kenin to open Fed Cup final for US against Strycova

Alison Riske attending the Fed Cup draw ceremony

Czech ambitions to claim an 11th title have been dampened with the loss of both Karolina Pliskova (injury) and Petra Kvitova, who is sick but hoping to recover in time for Sunday.

They traded breaks in games seven and eight as well to stay neck and neck and four good holds sent them into a tie break that Kenin won 7-5 after four mini-breaks and more than 60 minutes of play. It will be an interesting match, ' Czech captain Petr Pala said after training, according to the CTK news agency.

They remain heavy favourites, even without their leading duo, against a United States team featuring three debutants, including Kenin. Serving for the win at 5-4, Strycova sealed the deal with a backhand volley victor to deliver the first point for the Czech Republic.

The Czechs are seeking their sixth title in eight years.

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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).

The Czech team was heavily favoured going into the final with the defending champions USA fielding a squad without Serena and Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys.

The US are the most successful team in Fed Cup history with 18 titles so far, ahead of the Czechs who have won 10 including five as the former Czechoslovakia.

Sofia Kenin of the US.

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Siniakova then saw off 63rd-ranked Alison Riske 6-3, 7-6 (7/2). The two met three times before at WTA tournaments, with Siniakova leading 2-1. "Of course I expect a tough match", added Siniakova, who has a 2-1 head-to-head record with Riske while Strycova and Kenin have never met on court. "Katka kept the lead and suddenly she was facing two match points".

In Sunday's reverse singles, Kenin will go against Siniakova, and Riske will meet Strycova.

Siniakova and Barbora Krejcikova are then scheduled to face Danielle Collins and the Czech-born Nicole Melichar in the final doubles rubber. "When I was down, I was still fighting out there", said Kenin, who broke the top 100 in 2018 and ended the year ranked 48th.

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