By Jake Davies
- Czech Republic win 10th Fed Cup title in their history
- Caroline Garcia gave France a 2-1 lead by beating Karolina Pliskova
- Strycova shines in singles and doubles to claim third Fed Cup title in a row
STRASBOURG, FRANCE – The Czech Republic continued their fine tradition in the Fed Cup, lifting their 10th Fed Cup title against the hosts, France.
Caroline Garcia put France 2-1 up with her first Top 10 win of the season
The Czech Republic reasserted their overwhelming dominance on World Team Tennis as they came out on top in a thrilling Fed Cup Final, which saw one of the hotly contested finals in the history of the prestigious team competition.
On resumption in the best-of-five matches, World No.23 Caroline Garcia continued where she left off, winning her second singles rubber of the final beating Karolina Pliskova in a tight three-set match. The talented Frenchwoman was suffering from a 0-7 win-loss record against Top 10 opponents before she handed Pliskova defeat 6-3 3-6 6-3 to put the French 2-1 up in the tie.
Substitute Strycova sent Czech into a deciding doubles
In the fourth rubber, both Petra Kvitova and Kristina Mladenovic were replaced by Barbora Strycova and Alize Cornet respectively. Mladenovic was rested with the possibility of playing a potential deciding doubles rubber, where she would be essential to the outcome of the 2016 Fed Cup final. Kvitova had been suffering a foot injury that hindered her in her previous match, so Petr Pala opted to substitute a feisty Strycova, who was a respectable option for the Czechs as they tried to claw back the scoreline.
Strycova did not have the best of records against Cornet, but Pala knew that the diminutive Czech thrived in a Fed Cup environment – she was integral to the Czech’s 2015 Fed Cup win in the doubles last season.
The Czech’s had a career-best season in 2016. She reached a career high of No.19 and finished the year inside the World’s Top 20 for the first time. Strycova won the first set fairly routinely as her overbearing variation and mixture of shots was causing Cornet a lot of problems. The best characteristic of Strycova’s unique game-style is that she purposely tries to make the match as uncomfortable as possible with the shots that she utilises on the match court.
After a slow start to the second set, Strycova reeled off four games in a row and attempted to serve for the match. The World No.20 and third highest ranked Czech in the world completely lost the continuity and fluidity around her serve at *5-4 and at *6-5, but regrouped to take the match in the second set tiebreak. The substitute had kept the tie alive for the Czech Republic and forced the French into a decisive doubles rubber, just like in 2015.
An exciting doubles rubber sees Czech take all in dramatic fashion
The makeshift team of Pliskova and Strycova wrapped up the tie with a sensational, pulsating performance against one of the best teams of 2016 as they triumphed over Garcia and Mladenovic en route to the 2016 Fed Cup title.
Strycova led by example and guided the Czech team to a historic victory. The Czechs were considerable underdogs heading into the doubles match, facing a formidable French doubles pairing who had already won their first Grand Slam in this calendar year.
Pliskova, with the guidance of Strycova, shone in the closing stages of the match and really grew into the occasion and showed up when it mattered most. The top players on both tours produce clutch and purposeful tennis in the most monumental of moments and Pliskova provided some of the finest volleying performances to ultimately decide the tie by beating France 7-5 7-5 in the all-important final rubber.
Pala now becomes the most successful Fed Cup captain in the competitions history. Czech Republic are one of the greatest and most successful countries and he has been integral in the domination of in recent history as under his tutelage, Czech Republic have won five of the last six Fed Cup titles. Only USA can boast a better record in this competition, but with the plethora of talented players in the Czech set up it is possible that they could dominate this team competition for the foreseeable future.
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