Czech Republic vs Switzerland Fed Cup tennis World Group Round 1 news, matches and live stream: Petra Kvitova sends Czechs into 10th straight semi-final

Live Tennis Staff in Fed Cup 11 Feb 2018
  • Petra Kvitova sent the Czech Republic into a 10th straight Fed Cup semi-final with a 6-2 6-4 victory over Belinda Bencic in the first of Sunday's reverse singles.
  • Victory for Kvitova gave the Czechs an unassailable 3-0 lead in Prague
  • Watch and bet on tennis live from Prague at Unibet > live streaming > tennis
Petra Kvitova. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Switzerland trail 0-2 heading into the reverse singles after wins from Petra Kvitova and Barbora Strycova on day one in Prague - can the Swiss turn it around?

Czech Republic vs Switzerland Fed Cup tennis is live from Prague on Sunday 11 February from 1.30pm local/12.30pm GMT
Watch and bet on tennis live from Prague at Unibet > live streaming > tennis

The Czechs have become a modern force in the Fed Cup, winning three straight titles between 2014 and 2016, before the USA halted that streak in the 2017 semi-finals. The Czechs were well short of full strength for that tie against the USA, with Katerina Siniakova, at No. 49 in the world the highest-ranked in the squad, but they are rolling out the big guns for this year’s opening tie, with former world number one, Karolina Pliskova, two-time major winner, Petra Kvitova, Barbora Strycova and Luci Safarova making up a lethal quartet.

Switzerland have also assembled a decent side, with Timea Bacsinszky and Belinda Bencic set to represent the visitors in the singles’ rubbers. The Swiss have never won the Fed Cup- their best result being their runner-up finish in 1998. They have made the semi-finals in each of the last two seasons- can they take down a formidable Czech outfit, in their safe haven in Prague, to keep that run going?

Czech Republic vs Switzerland Match Schedule

Czech Republic needed just three rubbers to dismiss Switzerland in Prague, with the returning Petra Kvitova playing a starring role as the hosts powered into a tenth straight straight Fed Cup semi-final.

Latest Czech Republic vs Netherlands Fed Cup results

Czech Republic 2-0 Switzerland

Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. Viktorija Golubic (SUI), 6-2, 1-6, 6-3
It was a dramatic match and an emotional return to Fed Cup action for Petra Kvitova, playing her first match for the Czech Republic since losing to Caroline Garcia during the 2016 final shortly before suffering the horrific knife attack which jeopardized her career and kept her out of action until the following May. Although she has won two titles since her return - Birmingham last summer and the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy last week - Kvitova has been even more erratic than usual (understandably) following her hand surgery and layoff, and it was an up-and-down encounter for the world no. 21 with Viktorija Golubic, who was preferred to Timea Bacsinszky (just returning from a long injury absence) for the first rubber. 

Kvitova tore through the first set with a vengeance that reminded one of her 26-10 record in Fed Cup singles rubbers - and her overall career record on indoor hard courts, which is the best among the WTA's active players - and lost just one point on serve as she took the first set 6-2. But she lost concentration early in the second set and paid the price as Golubic, ranked just world no. 100 but with a habit of playing above herself in Fed Cup rubbers, pounced to level the match. The third set was a rollercoaster with Kvitova racing to a 3-0 lead only to be pegged back by the Swiss. Kvitova eventually broke again at 4-4, leading Golubic to smash her racquet in frustration, but the Czech still had to save break point as she struggled to serve out the match before eventually closing out a 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 victory to put her country on top in this Fed Cup final.

Barbora Strycova (CZE) d. Belinda Bencic, 6-2, 6-4
Often overlooked in favour of higher-ranked singles players like Kvitova and Pliskova with their big powerhouse games, Barbora Strycova showed she's a force to be reckoned with in singles in her own right with a straight-sets victory over Belinda Bencic to put the Czech Republic 2-0 up. 

Brought in ahead of world no. 5 Pliskova due to the latter suffering from a stomach illness, Strycova outclassed Bencic in a duel of counter-punching, varied games that rely on finesse and defense rather than power. Bencic, who is still making her way back up the rankings after a prolonged absence due to a back injury, struggled to find her best game and although she did retrieve a break of serve in the second set, it was too little, too late for the self-assured Strycova.

Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. Belinda Bencic 6-2 6-4
Petra Kvitova completed the perfect return to Fed Cup action by dismissing Belinda Bencic 6-2 6-4 to give Czech Republic a 3-0 lead in the World Group tie, and with it, a spot in a tenth straight semi-final. Kvitova had indulged in a characteristic mid-match wobble before coming through the tie's opening rubber against Viktorija Golubic on Saturday, but there was nothing of such on Sunday, as she barely gave Bencic a sniff in an accomplished display of power tennis, not  dissimilar to the type that had fired her to the St. Petersburg title a week ago.

“I was more calm than yesterday,” Kvitova said. “I think yesterday the crowd and the people in here threw me and I had more emotions than I did today. 

Despite serving at just 43% in the opening set, Kvitova did not face a single break point in the 37-minute execution. The left-hander set the tone for the contest in a lengthy opening game, piling the pressure on Bencic with five break points- the young Swiss survived, but she wouldn't be that lucky later in the set, as Kvitova pulled away from 2-2, breaking twice to take a dominant first set. 

Kvitova broke in the seventh game of the second set to take full control of the match, and while Bencic had a couple of opportunities to break back, the two-time Wimbledon champion fended off those advances to seal the win after an hour and 23 minutes.

Czech Republic vs Netherlands squads

Czech Republic: Karolina Pliskova, Petra Kvitova, Barbora Strycova, Lucie Safarova, Petr Pala (Captain)
Switzerland: Timea Bacsinszky, Belinda Bencic, Viktorija Golubic, Jil Teichmann, Heinz Guenthardt (Captain)

World number five, Karolina Pliskova looks to continue her steady start to the season in the Fed Cup, as she spearheads the Czech Republic in their quarter final tie against Switzerland. Pliskova’s 2018 hasn’t been spectacular, but it has definitely been far from poor, featuring a semi-final in her season-opener in Brisbane and a quarter final of the Australian Open. Pliskova is 9-3 in Fed Cup singles’ rubbers (13-3 overall), and is unbeaten in her last three matches.

Pliskova may be the highest-ranked player in the side, but Petra Kvitova is the in-form woman, following her title-winning run in St. Petersburg last week. Kvitova was particularly devastating in the final, dropping just three games against French woman, Kristina Mladenovic. The left-hander is vastly experienced in Fed Cup tennis, winning 26 of her 36 singles’ rubbers in the competition, but she has lost her last three matches, the most recent of which was against Caroline Garcia in the 2016 final. Can she get back to winning ways this weekend?

Pliskova and Kvitova will most likely get the singles’ nod, while Barbora Strycova and Lucie Safarova will handle doubles’ responsibility. Ranked 25th and 31st respectively, Strycova and Safarova aren’t shabby at all at singles, but they are also the most accomplished doubles’ players in the squad. Not only are they both ranked in the top 20, they have also been doubles partners since last August. Strycova in particular has been a doubles’ stalwart for the Czechs, winning 10 of her 13 matches, while Safarova is a far less impressive 0-3 in doubles, although she has amassed 13-11 record in singles.

Switzerland may not be as powerful as the Czechs on paper, but they do present a very good side that should be very competitive over the two days. Their line-up contains two former top ten players- Timea Bacsinszky and Belinda Bencic. Bacsinszky is now down at No. 42 having only just recovered from hand surgery, but she has been as high as No. 9 in the world, and is a two-time Roland Garros semi-finalist. 

Belinda Bencic. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
The 28-year-old has been a fixture in the Swiss side that has made the semi-finals in each of the last two years, and has built up a useful 20-16 record in Fed Cup singles matches over the years. Former world number seven, Bencic has been dogged by injuries in the past year, but a prolonged spell of form and fitness in the final lap of last season has lifted her back into the top 80. Bencic began the year with a bang, starring with Roger Federer at the Hopman Cup, and beating Venus Williams at the opening round of the Australian Open to buttress her status as a potential darkhorse in Melbourne. However, her Australian Open campaign ended in the next round, as she fell to Luksika Kumkhum. That was just a minor blip in the outstanding progress she has been making since her return from injuries, and she remains very capable of causing serious problems this weekend- she has been good at the Fed Cup, winning seven of her nine singles’ matches.

World No. 11, Viktorija Golubic, who has been around the squad in recent ties and debutant, Jil Teichmann make up the rest of the squad.

Fed Cup format

Fed Cup ties are played over the best of five rubbers over two days. Two singles rubbers are played on Saturday, followed by the reverse singles rubbers on Sunday with the tie going to a deciding doubles rubber if necessary.

Player nominations can be changed up until an hour before the start of play.

One nation hosts the tie, with the choice of ground decided by where the two competing teams played last time. It is the turn of the Czechs to host this duel, as the welcome Switzerland to the O2 Arena in Prague for this weekend's tie.

Czech Republic vs Switzerland History

It has been thorough dominance by the Czech Republic, who have won six of the seven previous encounters with Switzerland. The disparity is also reflected in the overall achievements of the sides, with Czech Republic winning the title ten titles, and Switzerland yet to get off the mark.

The Czechs and the Swiss first crossed paths in a World Group II second round tie in Athens back in 1969, with the Czechs, then Czechoslovakia, winning 3-0. Their most recent meeting was in the 2016 semi-final in Luzerne, when the visiting Czechs dug out a 3-2 win to advance to the final. Viktorija Golubic had brilliantly kept the hosts in the tie by winning her two singles’ rubbers, but she could not quite get enough support from elsewhere, as Karolina Pliskova and Lucie Hradecka combined to take the deciding doubles’ rubber. Czech Republic went on to claim the title.

Switzerland’s only victory over the Czechs was in 1998, when the visiting Swiss, inspired by Martina Hingis romped to a 4-1 victory to reach their first final of the competition.

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Czech Republic vs Switzerland Fed Cup tennis World Group Round 1 news, matches and live stream: Petra Kvitova sends Czechs into 10th straight semi-final

Petra Kvitova sent the Czech Republic into a 10th straight Fed Cup semi-final with a 6-2 6-4 victory over Belinda Bencic in the first of Sunday's reverse singles.

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