SPORT

France, Czech level despite Pliskova epic

JOY AFTER THE JOUST:Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova celebrates with coach Petr Pala after besting France’s Kristina Mladenovic in a marathon first rubber on Saturday.— Photo: AFP

JOY AFTER THE JOUST:Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova celebrates with coach Petr Pala after besting France’s Kristina Mladenovic in a marathon first rubber on Saturday.— Photo: AFP  

Caroline Garcia defeated two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 7-6(6), 6-3 to bring France level at 1-1 against the Czech Republic after the first day of the Fed Cup final on Saturday.

Earlier, Karolina Pliskova beat Kristina Mladenovic 6-3, 4-6, 16-14 in an epic rubber which lasted 12 minutes short of four hours as the Czechs, chasing a fifth title in six years, got off to a sensational start. The last set was the longest to be contested in a final in the history of the tournament.

US Open runner-up Pliskova, the World No. 6, claimed victory having been 5-2 up in the decider and holding two match points at 9-8 in a match which shifted momentum at breath-taking speed.

Mladenovic even served for the match herself at 12-11 but was unable to press home her advantage, with her challenge eventually undone by cramping.

Mladenovic, who along with Garcia was recently reinstated in the French team following a suspension for bitter criticism of the country’s tennis federation at the Olympics, said her match had been draining.

Kvitova, the World No. 11, faced 23rd-ranked Garcia fresh from her title run at the WTA Elite Trophy tournament in China which gave the Czech a 19th career crown.

She was favourite to win a third meeting in four with Garcia but the French player made the most of an error-strewn performance by the Czech left-hander to claim an upset win on a second match point.

The results: Czech Republic 1, France 1 (Karolina Pliskova bt Kristina Mladenovic 6-3, 4-6, 16-14; Petra Kvitova lost to Caroline Garcia 6-7(6), 3-6). — AFP

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