Czechs win fifth Fed Cup in six years

Karolina Pliskova and Barbora Strycova clinched the Czech Republic's fifth Fed Cup title in six years yesterday morning (Singapore time), after beating France in the deciding doubles rubber in Strasbourg.

With the tie at 2-2, US Open finalist Pliskova partnered Strycova to beat French Open doubles champions Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic 7-5, 7-5 to extend the Czechs' reign.

It was their third triumph in succession and 10th overall, with only the United States boasting more titles with 17.

"Unbelievable. We don't have words yet, we are going to celebrate," said Strycova, a member of the title-winning teams in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015.

"The feeling is something so special, even if it's our fifth title. It's really unbelievable."

Pliskova added: "It's one of the best trophies I am going to win. I am going to place it next to the one from last year."

France had led 2-1 after Garcia moved them within reach of a first Fed Cup crown since 2003, following a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win over sixth-ranked Pliskova.

But Strycova, drafted in to replace the injured two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova by Czech captain Petr Pala, kept their hopes alive by beating Alize Cornet 6-2, 7-6 (7/4) to force a fifth and final rubber.

Mladenovic sat out the reverse singles with cramps after losing a four-hour marathon to Pliskova in the opening match on Saturday, but returned to partner Garcia in the doubles.

However, she dropped serve at 5-5 in the first set after netting a bruising forehand from Pliskova and the Czechs surged in front.

Pliskova and Strycova then broke again to move 3-2 ahead in the second, but the French pair responded to draw 4-4.

Mladenovic's serve came unstuck once more though, when Pliskova reacted superbly with a volley and convert the decisive break-point for a 6-5 lead as the Czechs extended their domination. - AFP.