Strycova stars as Czechs retain Fed Cup once again


Karolina Pliskova and Barbora Strycova again held their nerve in a dramatic decider to ensure Czech Republic claimed Fed Cup glory for the fifth time in six years with victory over France in Strasbourg.

Twelve months ago, Pliskova and Strycova teamed up to win a decisive doubles match against the Russian duo of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Elena Vesnina.

This time around, it was French Open women's doubles champions Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic who were beaten in the final rubber after the former's second singles win of the weekend had been followed by Strycova getting the better of Alize Cornet.

Lucie Hradecka was initially slated to feature in the doubles, but the decision to pair Pliskova and Strycova paid off handsomely for the Czechs as their stunning dominance of the event continued.

Garcia and Mladenovic battled gamely, with the backing of a partisan crowd, but ultimately came up short - losing 7-5 7-5 after two hours and 10 minutes of absorbing action at Rhenus Sport.

The Czechs claimed two breaks to their opponents' one in each set, but were pushed to the limit as Garcia and Mladenovic refused to go down without a fight.

France's defeat was particularly harsh on Garcia, who followed up Saturday's impressive victory over Petra Kvitova by triumphing against another higher-ranked opponent.

Pliskova had come through an epic encounter with Mladenovic 24 hours earlier, prevailing 16-14 in the third set, but was beaten 6-3 3-6 6-3 by an inspired Garcia as the hosts moved 2-1 up.

That result meant Strycova had to get the better of Cornet - a feat she had managed just once in six previous meetings.

Strycova duly obliged, racing through the first set before coming from three games down in the second to triumph 6-2 7-6 (7-4).

And she delivered again alongside Pliskova to deny France a first Fed Cup crown since 2003.