Czech women win sixth Fed Cup title in eight years; in absence of bigger names, Siniaková leads Czechs to victory; Strýcová quits international tennis and Šafářová announces complete retirement.
The Czechs won the first three matches to open up an unassailable lead over the defending champions in the best-of-five encounter, which took place in front of 14,500 fans at Prague’s O2 Arena.
In their absence, the team was powered to victory by 22-year-old Kateřina Siniaková.
The world number 31 (the highest ranked player in action) beat Alison Riske on Saturday after teammate Barbora Strýcová had given the hosts the lead with victory over Sofia Kenin in the opening rubber.
Then on Sunday Siniaková had to pull out all the stops in her match with Kenin. The Czech saved two match points in a hard-fought encounter lasting almost three and a half hours to beat the American 7-5 5-7 7-5 and give the Czechs the title.
Afterwards, the star of the weekend admitted to nerves when she wasted a 3-0 lead in the second set.
“Naturally it bothers me that I lost it a bit. I felt like I was still playing well but suddenly it started to turn. I just kept trying to concentrate and fight. In the third set too I was nervous. Again I had a break and again I lost it – and suddenly I faced two match balls. So my aim was to fight and return every ball. And in the end it paid off.”
Siniaková has achieved great success in the doubles this year, winning two Grand Slam titles with Barbora Krejčíková. But she says her Fed Cup achievement was beyond her imagination.
“It means a lot. Above all I’m glad I could be part of it and win those two points. Last year I made my debut in the competition and I really appreciate just being in the team at all. The atmosphere is always great and I enjoy these team events. It’s a very beautiful end to the season for me – something I didn’t dream of at the beginning.”
“I’m very glad it worked out as it did. It was emotional when they played the anthems and I’m going to miss that. And the girls too. We helped each other during the Fed Cup. It was amazing and I’m going to miss them, as well as the atmosphere and the crowds. But I’ve made my decision and I’m going to stick by it.”
Incidentally Lucie Šafářová, also a five-time Fed Cup winner, has announced her complete retirement after January’s Australian Open. The 31-year-old has been beset by injury problems.
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