The Czech Republic will play in their sixth Fed Cup final in eight years following a dominant 4-1 win over Germany at the Porsche Arena in Stuttgart.
After winning both of their singles matches on Saturday, the Czech team was given a run for their money by their opponents on day two. In the opening match Julia Goerges revived German chances with a 6-4, 6-2, triumph over world No.6 Karolina Pliskova. Producing a total of eight aces and 26 winners in the match.
German hopes were dashed in the match that followed Goerges’ win. Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova held her nerve to edge out Angelique Kerber 6-2, 6-2, in just 58 minutes. Heading into the encounter the two players were level in their head-to-head at 5-5, but their latest meeting was one-way traffic in Kvitova’s favour. Kvitova produced a total of 31 winners compared to her rivals tally of only seven.
“I am very relieved. I was getting nervous before this game,” Kvitova told AFP news.“We had a great position from yesterday, I think Julia played a really good match.
“I knew we still needed one point from our last two games and I just did my best.”
The mood of the home team worsened further in the final match. The Czech duo of Barbora Strycova and Katerina Siniakova was leading 7-5 in their doubles match before their rivals, Goerges and Anna-Lena Groenefeld, retired injured.
“It will take a while to get over it,” Kerber commented about the result of the tie. “We all know that was a great opportunity for us,” she added.
The Czech Republic will be bidding to win the team tournament for the 11th time. They are the second most successful team in the history of the competition in terms of trophies won.
Facing the Czech team in the final will be reigning champions the USA. Taking on France in their semifinal clash, they managed to prevail by winning both of their Sunday matches in the singles after being tamed at 1-1 on the opening day of the tie.
Sloane Stephens got the ball rolling with a 6-2, 6-0, thrashing of Kristina Mladenovic. The US Open champion was in an unforgiving mood as she dictated play from the onset. Converting five of her six break point chances and capitalising on Mladenovic’s below-par second service rate of 38%.
“That was a really good one. You never anticipate a scoreline like the way it turned out but it was really solid,” Stephens evaluated about her performance.
The unassailable lead for America was then clinched by Madison Keys. Despite some stern resistance by world No.122 Pauline Parmentier, the 23-year-old battled to a 7-6(4), 6-4 lead. Saving eight out of the 11 break points she faced.
“I was really nervous – I wanted to be the one who got the winning point. I was so sad I couldn’t play in the final last year because of my wrist injury.” Keys told fedcup.com. “Fed Cup is special. It captures the extremes of highs and lows in tennis. It takes me days to recover from a Fed Cup loss, whereas with a normal match within a day you’re bouncing back – but the wins are incredible.”
A chance for revenge
Historically, America has been a nightmare competitor for the Czech Republic in the Fed Cup. They have clashed 12 times since 1980 with the American’s winning 10 of those, including one last year. The last time the European nation triumphed was when they played under the name of Czechoslovakia back in 1985.
“Every time it feels exciting and we are happy to be in the final.” Said Kvitova. “Maybe I (would prefer to play) France, USA you never know they have some great players but any team that is in the final has great players.”
American team captain Kathy Rinaldi now has the chance to guide her country to back-to-back titles for the first time since 2000. America is already the most decorated team in the Fed Cup with 18 trophies to their name.
“The girls did so well, both today and yesterday. We are very fortunate to have such a strong group and now we are looking forward to what is going to be a great final,” U.S. captain Kathy Rinaldi said.
The Czech Republic will host the final in November at a yet to be confirmed venue.
Sorana Cirstea Announces Fed Cup Retirement, WTA Stars Prepare For 2019
Sorana Cirstea announces her Fed Cup retirement as WTA stars prepare for the 2019 season.
World number 85 Sorana Cirstea has announced her retirement from Fed Cup after competing in the competition for 12 years.
The Romanian first made her debut when she was just 16 years old when she competed against Sweden in Zone Group I Europe/Africa.
Since then Cirstea has won 16 of her 29 Fed Cup rubbers but has now announced that it is time to move on and wishes the team the best of luck for the future.
“I feel like I have done my duty. And now is the time to pass the relay baton onto the new generation,” Cirstea said on her Facebook page.
“I would like to thank my teammates, the Federation, the captains, the coaches and everyone who was involved in our success, and especially the Romanian crowd that has been supporting me over the years.”
The 28 year-old will look to now improve her ranking after a disappointing 2018 season which included a 17-25 win-loss record.
WTA Starts Prepare For 2019
Meanwhile other WTA players have been preparing for the new season, which officially begins in 16 days. Here is some of the best action from the off-season so far:
The Dane decided to use her off-season to improve her tennis with a certain 23 time grand slam champion:
The Belarusian rising star had an amazing 2018 season and is using unique training methods to improve further next season:
Despite an underwhelming 2018 season, the Spaniard has been practicing in California to get ready for the 2019 season:
Practice is perfect in Julia Goerges’ case as she looks to expand on her Wimbledon semi-final:
The US Open champion is getting ready for the new season in Los Angeles as she looks to gain even more fans in 2019:
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Ubitennis founder Ubaldo Scanagatta speaks with John Horn about the Canadian rising star.
Last week saw Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas add to his title collection at the Next Gen Finals in Milan, but one notable absentee from the tournament was Denis Shapovalov.
The 19-year-old is the youngest player inside the world’s top 100 at 27th and the fourth highest ranked among the Next Generation. A group of upcoming players under the age of 21. Shapovalov opted to end his season early due to exhaustion. Ubitennis analyses Shapovalov’s decision and looks ahead to what the future could have in store for him.
Katerina Siniakova saves two match points to secure the 11th Fed Cup title for
Katerina Siniakova secured the decivive 3-0 point to earn Czech Republic its 11th Fed Cup title and its 6th triumph in the past eight seasons at this event since 2011. Siniakova had to save two match point at 4-5 in the third set to beat US Sofia Kenin 7-5 5-7 7-5 in the third singles match to the delight of the enthusiastic Czech fans, who packed the O2 Arena in Prague.
Siniakova scored her second singles win this weekend after beating Alison Riske on Saturday.
Siniakova converted her first break chance and went up a double break early in the first set. Kenin got back on serve at 1-2 in a 10-minute game before breaking again in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Sinakova bounced back by breaking serve once more. Kenin converted on her break point at deuce at 3-5 down before drawing level to 5-5. Siniakova reeled off five consecutive games to build up a 7-5 3-0 lead, but Kenin came back from 15-40 down to win her first game of the second set. The US teenager broke twice in a row in the fifth and seventh games. Siniakova pulled the break back for 4-5 with a series of backhand winners. Kerer broke again at love in the 11th game to take a 6-5 lead before sealing the second set on the fourth set point.
Siniakova saved three break points in the first game of the decider before breaking serve on her second chance. The Czech player consolidated the break with a hold to build up a 3-0 lead.
Siniakova fended off four break points to hold serve for 4-1 in a 19-minute marathon fifth game. Kenin fought back by winning four consecutive games thanks to two consecutive breaks in the seventh and ninth games to take a 5-4 lead, but she fired the ball beyond the baseline twice from 40-15 and failed to convert her two match points. Siniakova reeled off six points in a row from 0-40 down at 5-5. Siniakova got the final break of the match in the 12th game to seal a thrilling win after 3 hours and 44 minutes, when Kenin sent her forehand into the tramlines. The Czech team celebrated the fourth of their six titles since 2011 at the O2 Arena in Prague.
Siniakova scored the third win in four singles Fed Cup rubbers. She hit 4 aces and won 56 percent of her first serve points. Kenin hit 42 winners but she made 76 unforced errors.
Czech Republic ended a 8-match losing streak against the USA at Fed Cup level.
Petr Pala has won his sixth title as captain of the Czech Fed Cup team. He boasts an impressive 24-4 win-loss record in the 28 Fed Cup matches where he took charge of the Czech team.
The US team captained by Kathy Rinaldi did not defend their title won in 2017, but they featured a young team with three players Danielle Collins, Sofia Kenin and Nicole Melichar, who made their debut at this event this weekend.
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