Pliskova gives Czech Republic 1-0 lead in Fed Cup final

France's Kristina Mladenovic returns the ball to Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova during the Fed Cup final in Strasbourg, eastern France, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)
AP

STRASBOURG, France (AP) Defending champion Czech Republic took a 1-0 lead in the Fed Cup final on Saturday after a marathon third set.

Sixth-ranked Karolina Pliskova recovered from a second-set blip to beat France's Kristina Mladenovic 6-3, 4-6, 16-14.

Pliskova used her deep groundstrokes to take control on the indoor hardcourt but showed her nerves midway through the second set, allowing Mladenovic back in the match with a series of mistakes.

Both players fought hard in the decider but Mladenovic struggled physically and had her left thigh bandaged.

Mladenovic saved two match points with two big serves, including an ace, to level at 9-9 but cracked on her serve in the 30th game when she was broken at love.