Russia were on the brink of victory after Maria Sharapova’s three set win over Petra Kvitova in the first match of the day. However victory for Karolina Pliskova over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and in the final doubles runner ensured the Czech’s retained their title.
The win further solidifies the Czech Republic as the best nation in women’s tennis with three players inside the top 12 and a recent dominance of the Fed Cup, but it was not all comfortable.
In the marque match of the day, Sharapova and Kvitova battled to give their side a 2-1 advantage heading into the final singles rubber. The Czech made a good start with an early break and took the opener 6-3.
“I thought Petra played unbelievable in the first set,” Sharapova said in a post-match interview courtesy of WTA Tennis.
“She was playing so aggressive and hitting really deep off both strokes. I just didn’t have that momentum in the first set – but she gave me a bit of a window for a few points and I took it, and I was able to take the second set.”
“The end of the second set was a turning point when she broke me and held to win the set,” Kvitova said. “In the third set she just came back and started hitting really hard, with better placement and fewer mistakes too – it was difficult for me to keep playing well and hitting deep like I was.”
Therefore there was a huge amount of pressure on the world number 11 Pliskova, who had to defeat Pavlyuchenkova to keep her side in the tie.
Playing her first Fed Cup final this weekend, the Czech kept the coolness that saw her break the top 10 earlier this year, coming through the fourth rubber in straight sets 6-3, 6-4.
The short nature of the fourth rubber meant that Pliskova and Pavlyuchenkova were drafted in to the final doubles rubber to partner Barbora Strycova and Elena Vesnina respectively.
The Russian pairing took the first set 6-4 to put themselves on the verge of ending the Czech’s title defence, but the Pliskova/Strycova combination gradually grew In confidence and took the second 6-3 to level it. With the support of the Prague crowd, the Czech’s took charge of the third set and successfully served it out 6-2 to retain the Fed Cup.
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