Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Czechs beat defending champion U.S. in Fed Cup final

Team Czech Republic celebrate during the trophy ceremony. David W Cerny Reuters Team Czech Republic celebrate during the trophy ceremony. David W Cerny Reuters
Cary Erickson | 13 November, 2018, 19:11

Another mainstay on the Czech Fed Cup team in recent years, Lucie Safarova, announced on Saturday she will retire from tennis after the Australian Open because of health problems.

The Czech Republic advanced to the Final after defeating Switzerland 3-1 in the first round in Prague and Germany 4-1 in the semifinals in Stuttgart.

Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic reacts after scoring a point against Alison Riske of the United States during their tennis match of the Fed Cup Final between Czech Republic and United States in Prague, Czech Republic, Saturday, Nov. 10.

The Czech Republic won their sixth Fed Cup title in eight years on Sunday as world doubles number one Katerina Siniakova outlasted American Sofia Kenin in a marathon match in front of a boisterous, sold-out home crowd.

It was the first victory for the Czechs over the United States - since the country was created after the split of Czechoslovakia in 1993 - after four defeats in the Fed Cup.

With the Czechs an unassailable 3-0 up in the best-of-five final, the second reverse singles and the doubles were cancelled. Siniakova was efficient off both wings but the American struggled on her backhand, finding just one victor behind it throughout the entire match. "It was up and down, with nerves".

"I am just terribly happy I won".

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Siniakova responded to the setback by easing to a 3-0 lead, while she came out on top in a dramatic fifth game - in part thanks to a fortunate net-cord - that spanned 19 minutes, making it 4-1.

US captain Kathy Rinaldi said she was proud of her team despite the loss.

"We didn't get the result that we wanted but nobody can say we didn't give all out there", Rinaldi said after her first loss as the captain.

"But you keep playing until the last match point is won". I fought to the end.

"It was a long match, a lot of points, a lot of effort, long points", Kenin said.

Both players made 32 unforced errors and the American had 23 winners - two more than Strycova - but the Czech made her experience count in the decisive points. Siniakova hit 24 winners.

The 19-year-old American, who will celebrate her 20th birthday on November 14, had a couple of match points after receiving treatment on her thigh but could not convert in what was a thrilling but mentally gruelling encounter.