PRAGUE (AP) Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and Barbora Strycova won the opening singles matches on Saturday to give the Czech Republic a commanding 2-0 lead over Switzerland in the Fed Cup first round.
Kvitova put the Czechs ahead after she overcame a second-set scare to beat Viktorija Golubic 6-2, 1-6, 6-3. Strycova doubled the advantage with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Belinda Bencic to put the Czechs one win away from their 10th straight Fed Cup semifinals.
Strycova jumped 4-1 up in the second set before Bencic, the former top 10 player, fought back briefly to reduce the lead to 4-3.
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Strycova served the match out on an indoor hard court at Prague’s O2 Arena, winning with her first match point due to Bencic’s 23rd unforced error.
”It was a solid game from me,” Strycova said. ”I’m grateful for the point, it’s pretty important.”
In the opening set, Stryova didn’t waste time and broke Bencic in the opening game and again in the seventh.
Earlier, the 100th-ranked Golubic double-faulted to drop her serve in the eighth game of the final set, allowing the 21st-ranked Kvitova to serve out the match. The Czech converted her first match point with a backhand volley at the net.
Kvitova hit 32 winners on the way to victory compared to Golubic’s 14.
”It was up and down,” said Kvitova, who improved to 27-10 in Fed Cup singles. ”I started well and she looked a bit nervous at first. But I struggled physically and also mentally in the second.”
After winning the first set, Kvitova looked to be heading for an easy victory, breaking Golubic in the opening game of the second set. But she struggled with her serve, giving the Swiss a chance to come back with six straight games.
”I said to myself, I didn’t want to be the next (Czech) to lose to her,” Kvitova said. In the 2016 Fed Cup semifinals, Golubic won both her singles matches, beating Strycova and Karolina Pliskova, her only wins in the Fed Cup singles.
Kvitova has returned to Fed Cup action for the first time since recovering from injuries in a knife attack at her home in December 2016. She won in St. Petersburg, Russia, this month, beating two top-10 players.
The reverse singles and the doubles closer are scheduled for Sunday.