Strycova gives Czechs early lead in Fed Cup final

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© Reuters. Fed Cup - World Group Final - Czech Republic v United States© Reuters. Fed Cup – World Group Final – Czech Republic v United States

PRAGUE (Reuters) – Barbora Strycova beat Sofia Kenin in the opening match of the Fed Cup final in Prague on Saturday to give the Czech Republic a 1-0 lead against the United States, the defending champions.

Strycova, filling in for injured world number eight Karolina Pliskova, gave up the first set to the 19-year-old Kenin, who fought through early nerves in her first taste of Fed Cup action.

But the veteran Strycova, playing her 20th Fed Cup tie after first appearing in the tournament in 2002, showed her experience, breaking the young American’s serve seven times to hold on for a 6-7 6-1 6-4 victory.

It was the ideal start for the Czechs, winners of five of the last seven Fed Cup titles, who are without two of their top players.

Yet they still remain heavy favorites against a U.S. team featuring three debutantes, including Kenin, because their best players are all unavailable.

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