USA counting on debutants in Fed Cup title defence

Fed Cup- World Group Final- Czech Republic v United States

Fed Cup final: Czech Rep go 2-0 up against United States

Czech Republic surged into a 2-0 lead against defending champions United States in the Fed Cup final, despite being without star player Petra Kvitova in Prague.

Chances are the two-time Wimbledon champion will not be needed, with the hosts requiring only one more win to put the match beyond their opponents.

Another mainstay on the Czech Fed Cup team in recent years, Lucie Safarova, announced on Saturday she will retire from tennis after the Australian Open because of health problems.

"Of course I expect a tough match", added Siniakova, who has a 2-1 head-to-head record with Riske while Strycova and Kenin have never met on court. No63 Alison Riske makes up the number: She has played just three Fed Cup rubbers, with her only win coming in singles against Andrea Petkovic in the 2017 quarter-finals.

On Sunday, Siniakova is due to face Kenin and Strycova will then take on Riske.

US Danielle Rose Collins, right, talks to her teammate Sofia Kenin, left, during a training session prior to the final match of the Fed Cup between Czech Republic and United States of America in Prague, Czech Republic, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018.

The Czech Republic has now won the Fed Cup title six times in the past eight years.

"It was frightful, the worst (moment)", Siniakova said about the match points she faced. The Williams sisters, Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys all withdrew.

U.S. captain Kathy Rinaldi said on wtatennis.com: "We came here expecting their best players to play, so we were preparing for everyone".

"It couldn't be better but it isn't finished yet so we need to be ready for tomorrow".

But the Czechs enjoy home court advantage and will ride a 10-tie winning streak into the final, having not lost a home tie since falling to the US 3-2 in the 2009 World Group semi-finals.

"I definitely do like the court a lot", she told media just after the draw was made.

The Czech squad has won 10 times, including five times as Czechoslovakia. "I'm so happy that I could win today in front of such a crowd", Strycova said.

But it could be the singles rubbers that determine the result, and fortunately Katerina Siniakova and Barbora Strycova are also ranked 31 and 33 respectively in singles.

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