Czech Republic surge ahead against United States in Fed Cup final
Barbora Strycova and Katerina Siniakova defeated Sofia Kenin and Alison Riske, respectively.
The Czech Republic are in sight of a sixth Fed Cup title in the last eight years after victories for Barbora Strycova and Katerina Siniakova in Prague.
The Czechs went into the clash against defending champions the United States as heavy favourites given the make-up of the two teams, only to lose Karolina Pliskova to injury and Petra Kvitova to illness – although Kvitova could yet play on Sunday.
Chances are the two-time Wimbledon champion will not be needed, with the hosts requiring only one more win to put the match beyond their opponents.
Strycova was the first in action at a sold-out O2 Arena having revealed this will be her final Fed Cup tie.
She lost the opening set to teenage debutante Sofia Kenin but showed all her experience to come back and claim a 6-7 (5/7) 6-1 6-4 victory.
Things were slightly more straightforward for Siniakova in a 6-3 7-6 (7/2) win against Alison Riske, the only member of the US team not making her debut.
Meanwhile, former French Open finalist Lucie Safarova, a four-time champion as part of the Czech side, announced she will retire after the Australian Open at the age of 31 having battled health problems in recent years.