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Czech Republic vs USA Fed Cup Final News, Matches and Live Streaming: Czechs on the verge of 11th Fed Cup title as they take 2-0 lead into Day 2

Leye Aduloju in News 10 Nov 2018
  • Czech Republic vs USA Fed Cup final is live from Prague from 10-11 November
  • Czechs have won five of the last seven Fed Cup titles, but the USA are the defending champions
  • Czech Republic lead 2-0 heading into Day 2 after Barbora Strycova and Katerina Siniakova won their opening singles rubbers on Saturday
The Czech Republic host USA in the 2018 Fed Cup Final. (Photo by MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images)

Czech Republic are 2-0 up and on the cusp of a sixth Fed Cup title in the last eight years as they look to complete a victory over defending champions USA on Sunday in Prague.

The Czechs have been the dominant nation in recent years, winning the title in five of the last seven years, while the Americans are the reigning champions, having beaten Belarus in last year’s final to end a 17-year Fed Cup title drought.

It’s the 13th meeting between the two countries in the competition, and their third in the final, with the Americans enjoying a dominant 10-2 record over their European rivals.

The Czechs have been fairly comfortable in their progress to the final, easing past Switzerland in Prague in the first round, before beating a strong German team, comprising Angelique Kerber and Julia Goerges, in the semi-finals. Reigning champions, USA share an identical route to the final, as they beat the Netherlands 3-1 in Asheville, in a tie which featured Serena Williams in her return to the sport after child birth, while they took down France away from home in the semis- Sloane Stephens, CoCo Vandeweghe and Madison Keys staring for a strong American team.

Both nations are missing key players this weekend, with the home side losing No.2 player, Karolina Pliskova for the entire tie to a calf injury, while No. 1 player, Petra Kvitova is out of Saturday’s singles’ rubber through illness. The USA have got a very inexperienced side, with their top three players, Sloane Stephens, Serena Williams and Madison Keys all missing. Danielle Collins, the world number 36 is the highest ranked player in Kathy Rinaldi’s squad. Rinaldi is unbeaten in five Fed Cup ties since taking over as captain last year, but that perfect record comes under severe threat over the next couple of days, as she leads her team against the most successful captain in the competition’s history, Petr Pala. 

Czech Republic vs USA Fed Cup Final Match Schedule

Rubber 3: Katerina Siniakova (CZE) vs Sofia Kenin (USA), live from Prague from 12.00pm local time (11.00am GMT)

Before this week, Katerina Siniakova had only played two Fed Cup singles rubbers, but with Karolina Pliskova out injured and Petra Kvitova suffering from illness, the young Czech was all of a sudden propelled into the deep end as her nation’s No. 1 ranked player for the final.

However, Siniakova dealt with the pressure like a seasoned veteran on Saturday, toppling the more experienced Alison Riske in straight sets to guide the Czech’s to the cusp of a sixth Fed Cup title in the last eight years and an 11th trophy overall.

Currently ranked at a career-high No. 31 in the world, Siniakova has found more consistency in her powerful game in 2018, finishing runner-up in Shenzhen, making the semi-finals in Nurnberg, quarter-finals in Beijing, Wuhan, St. Petersburg and Prague and reaching the third rounds of Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

Katerina Siniakova (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
Taking the scalps of Caroline Garcia, Garbine Muguruza and Kiki Bertens in the last month of the season, Siniakova is certainly in a rich vein of form at the moment - can she cap a great season by winning the decisive rubber for her country and help Czech Republic secure an 11th Fed Cup crown and a first ever win over the USA?

Meanwhile, Sofia Kenin made her Fed Cup debut on Saturday, pushing Czech veteran Barbora Strycova to the limit before finally succumbing in three sets. The 19-year-old was in no way overawed in playing her first Fed Cup match in a final on foreign soil, claiming the first set before Strycova began to assert her authority with the help of the home crowd. Kenin now faces another huge test as she tries to keep USA in the tie when she comes up against Siniakova on Sunday.

Currently the highest-ranked teenager in the world, Kenin has experienced a meteoric rise up the rankings over the last few seasons, going from No. 624 at the start of the 2016 season before finishing 2017 as the World No. 108 - and she’s cut that ranking in half during a very fruitful 2018, breaking into the top 50 for the first time in October after semi-finals in Mallorca and Quebec City, along with reaching the third round of the U.S. Open for the second year on the bounce.

But this is by far the biggest match Kenin has played in her career to date. The American acquitted herself admirably in her Fed Cup debut on Saturday, and she will have to raise her level even more if she wants to keep her nation alive against a confident Siniakova. The pair are completely opposite in styles, with Siniakova a far more aggressive player who tries to hit winners at any given opportunity, while Kenin is more of a grinder and retriever. Given what’s on the line and the conditions, I favour Siniakova to emerge triumphant if she plays like she did against Riske and seal Czech Republic an 11th Fed Cup title.

Rubber 4: Barbora Strycova (CZE) vs Alison Riske (USA), live from Prague from around 1.30pm local time (12.30pm BST)

If Kenin can cause a big upset and take out Siniakova in the third rubber, USA’s Alison Riske will have the chance to keep the defending champions alive and force a decisive fifth doubles rubber against Barbora Strycova. On the other hand, Strycova might have the chance to win Czech Republic the Fed Cup in what would be her last ever match in the competition, which would be the biggest of fairytale farewells.

Playing her 20th Fed Cup tie for her country, Strycova is now 11-7 in singles after coming back from a set down for the first time in her 16-year Fed Cup career to beat Kenin in three sets on Saturday, kick-starting the Czech’s quest for a sixth Fed Cup trophy in the last eight years. The 32-year-old has consistently maintained a ranking between No. 20 and No. 40 over the last few years, peaking at a career-high No. 16 last year and arriving in Prague at No. 33 after making the fourth rounds of the Australian Open and Roland Garros, along with a third round at Wimbledon, a semi-final in Birmingham and quarter-finals in Auckland, Sydney, Tokyo and Linz.

Barbora Strycova (R) of Czech Republic celebrates with team captain Petr Pala (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
At No. 63 in the world, Alison Riske is the third-highest ranked player in the American team, but she’s the most experienced at Fed Cup level, with captain Kathy Rinaldi opting to select her on Saturday in favour of No. 36 Danielle Collins. Unfortunately for he USA, the move didn’t pay dividends as Siniakova defeated Riske in straight sets, leaving the defending champions with it all to do on Sunday.

Equipped with a booming serve and powerful groundstrokes, Riske has all the weapons to be extremely dangerous in these conditions, but she has always struggled with her consistency and that’s why she has never been ranked higher than No. 36 in the world. The 28-year-old hasn’t had a great season in 2018, with her highlights including a runner-up finish in Nurnberg and winning the 100k ITF title in Surbiton.

Riske has also lost her previous two meetings with Strycova - and they’ve been heavy defeats, with the Czech winning 6-2 6-1 in 2011 at Indian Wells and 6-3 6-0 in 2017 at the French Open. Obviously this is much bigger than those two first round matches, but Riske’s power hasn’t been able to break through Strycova’s defences, and in a pressure-filled environment such as a Fed Cup final, it’s hard to see the American executing her high-risk (no pun intended!) game consistently enough to trouble the Czech. If we do indeed see a live fourth rubber, expect Strycova - in her last ever Fed Cup match - to guide her nation to the trophy.

Rubber 5: Katerina Siniakova & Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) vs Danielle Collins & Nicole Melichar (USA), live from Prague after the first two singles rubbers

And if by some miracle USA to conjure up the comeback, the Czech’s will have a massive advantage in the doubles, with Siniakova and Krejcikova the No. 1 ranked doubles team in the world, while Collins is ranked No. 410 alongside doubles specialist Melichar, who is No. 15.

Siniakova and Krejcikova won the French Open and Wimbledon titles this year and will start as the heavy favourites if a fifth rubber does eventuate.

Czech Republic vs USA Fed Cup Final Results

Rubber 1: Barbora Strycova (CZE) def. Sofia Kenin (USA) 6-7(5) 6-1 6-4

In a dramatic opening day inside the O2 Arena in Prague, veteran Barbora Strycova got Czech Republic off to a winning start as she fought back from a set down to conquer American teenager Sofia Kenin. Remarkably, it was the first time in Strycova’s 16-year Fed Cup career that she had successfully come back from losing the opening set to win a singles rubber - but in her last every Fed Cup tie, she was able to subdue the rising Kenin 6-7(5) 6-1 6-4 to hand her nation a 1-0 lead.

“It’s funny because it’s her first tie and my last one,” Strycova said after the win. “On one hand it’s sad, but on the other I experienced so many amazing moments with this team. I played with so many different players on the court, both opponents and teammates. I will never forget this, because it’s was really special.”

Rubber 2: Katerina Siniakova (CZE) def. Alison Riske (USA) 6-3 7-6(2)

Chosen ahead of the higher-ranked Danielle Collins due to her greater Fed Cup experience, Alison Riske couldn’t overcome the explosive Katerina Siniakova, with the hard-hitting youngster giving the Czech team a commanding 2-0 lead after Day 1, beating the American in straight sets in the second singles rubber.

With Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova both missing, Siniakova was all of a sudden the Czech’s No. 1 player, and she handed the pressure superbly, coming back from 3-1 down in the second set complete the victory in straights.

“Katka (Siniakova) was dealing with a different kind of pressure, as the No. 1 player on the team today. It was a very even match – I wasn’t looking at the rankings – so I was very happy with the way she played.”

Czech Republic vs USA Squads

Czech Republic vs USA Players

Czech RepublicUSA
Player 1 (Singles Ranking)Petra Kvitova (7)Danielle Collins (36)
Player #2 (Singles Ranking)Katerina Siniakova (31)Sofia Kenin (52)
Player #3 (Singles Ranking)Barbora Strycova (33)Alison Riske (63)
Player #4 (Singles Ranking)Barbora Krejcikova (203)Nicole Melichar (876)
CaptainPetr PalaKathy Rinaldi

Both sides are missing key players, but the Americans appear to be the worst hit, as they prosecute this final with a largely inexperienced squad composed of three debutantes.

The Czech Republic can at least call on the vast experience of Barbora Strycova, while they are hopeful of having spearhead, Petra Kvitova, the world number seven and recipient of this year’s Heart Award for Sunday’s reverse singles. Kvitova was excluded from Saturday’s play through illness, while the country’s no. 2 player, Karolina Pliskova has since been ruled out of the tie due to injury.

Kvitova is still listed in the Czech squad, but whether she features at all or not remains to be seen. The Czechs will be desperate to get the two-time Wimbledon champion on court, as the Fed Cup always brings out the best in the left-hander. She is a formidable 30-10 in Fed Cup singles rubbers, and has won all four matches this year. Kvitova has had her short comings in 2018, especially in the Grand Slams, but she has still compiled a good year, winning titles in St. Petersburg, Doha, Prague, Madrid, and Birmingham, and returning to the world’s top 10.

Kvitova and Pliskova may be absent, but such is the strength in depth of the Czechs that they can still produce two top 35 singles players, with Katerina Siniakova and Barbora Strycova, ranked 31st and 33rd respectively, taking the lead on Saturday.

The Czech Squad. (Photo by MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images)
Despite not matching her title haul from 2017, when she won her first WTA titles in Shenzhen and Bastad, Siniakova has still put together a very good 2018, moving to a career-high ranking of 31st. She made the third round in three of the four Grand Slams- Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open- and also took a particular liking to China, where she made the final in Shenzhen, and reached Premier-level quarter finals in Beijing and Wuhan. She also made the semi-finals in Nurnberg. Siniakova hold a 1-1 record in Fed Cup singles rubbers, having won one, and lost the other in a semi-final defeat against the Americans last year.

Strycova may be the lower ranked Czech in action on Saturday, but she presents a formidable Fed Cup record- 10-7 in singles, and 11-4 in doubles. Her experience could be vital especially in the absence of big hitters, Kvitova and Pliskova. She has had an OK season, reaching the fourth round at the Australian Open and Roland Garros, and making the third round at Wimbledon and the US Open. She had her only semi-final of the year in Birmingham, while she made quarter finals in Auckland, Sydney, Tokyo and Linz.

Should this tie go into a deciding doubles rubber, then the Czechs will have the luxury of calling on the No. 1 doubles pair in the world- Siniakova and her partner, Barbora Krejcikova.
With the top three Americans- Sloane Stephens, Serena Williams and Madison Keys absent from this final, world number 36, Daniele Collins, who has never played a Fed Cup tie, is the highest ranked player in a very inexperienced squad that also comprises 19-year-old Sofia Kenin, Alison Riske and Nicole Melichar. 

Of the quartet, Riske is the only one with Fed Cup experience, having being part of last year’s title winning team. Overall, the 28-year-old is 1-1 in Fed Cup singles’ rubbers. Riske peaked at a career-high No. 36 last season, but she is currently down at 63rd after a season during which her best results were a runner-up finish in Nurnberg and a handful of quarter finals in Hobart, s-Hertogenbosch, Mallorca and Tokyo. She will have to play a big role, and play it very well if the Americans are to score an unlikely victory in Prague. Riske has been selected, along with Kenin for Saturday’s singles’ rubbers, ahead of Collins, who is the Ni. 1 player in the current side.

Team USA. (Photo by MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images)
Ranked 160th at the start of the year, Collins has done a superb job to break into the top 40, majorly on the back of some strong results in North America. She was particularly brilliant during the Indian Wells-Miami axis, reaching the fourth round at Indian Wells, and making the semi-finals in Miami. She also made the semis in San Jose, and reached the quarter finals in Acapulco. Collins has been left out of singles action, but she is scheduled to join Melichar in the doubles rubber, should the tie extend to that- the selections can obviously be altered through the course of the weekend.

Sofia Kenin, at 52nd in the world, is the second highest-ranked player in Kathy Rinaldi’s squad. While her climb up the WTA rankings has been quick and impressive, the 19-year-old faces a real baptism of fire in the Fed Cup, as she takes on the Czechs on their formidable home patch.

Nicole Melichar makes up the team, and she is primarily there for her doubles prowess- she is ranked 15th in the doubles rankings.

Fed Cup Format 

Fed Cup ties are played over the best of five rubbers over two days. Two singles rubbers are played on Saturday, followed by the reverse singles rubbers on Sunday with the tie going to a deciding doubles rubber if necessary.

Player nominations can be changed up until an hour before the start of play.

One nation hosts the tie, with the choice of ground decided by where the two competing teams played last time. It is the turn of the Czechs to host this duel, as they welcome the USA to the O2 Arena in Prague for this weekend's final.

Czech Republic vs USA Fed Cup History

The Czech Republic and the United States are the most successful countries in Fed Cup history, with the former claiming 10 titles, and the latter boasting a record 18 Fed Cup titles. Both nations have met 12 times in the past, with the US enjoying a dominant 10-2 record over the Czechs. In fact, the Americans are currently on an eight-match winning streak against the Czech Republic, and have not lost against the Europeans since the 1985 final, when Hana Mandlikova and Helena Sukova inspired the Czechs to victory in Nagoya, Japan.

The Czechs were hopeful of retaining their trophy when they took on the Americans in the 1986 final in Prague- their only previous meeting in the Czech capital- but with Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova back in their side, the USA earned their revenge, and have dominated this match-up since then.

The 1985 and 1986 match-ups were the only previous years when the Czech Republic and the USA met in Fed Cup finals.

They met as recently as last year, in the semi-finals, when the American team, spearheaded by CoCo Vandeweghe, scored a 3-2 victory in Florida to advance to the final, where they defeated Belarus to win their 18th title, and their first since 2000. During the USA’s long-drought between 2000 and 2017, the Czechs established themselves as the dominant force in the competition, winning the title five times between 2011 and 2016. Now the USA are attempting to wrestle back control, as they seek back-to-back titles this weekend.

Czech Republic vs USA Fed Cup Final is live from Prague from 10-11 November.

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Czech Republic vs USA Fed Cup Final News, Matches and Live Streaming: Czechs on the verge of 11th Fed Cup title as they take 2-0 lead into Day 2

The Czech Republic take on the United States in the 2018 Fed Cup final in Prague, live from 10-11 November.

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