After an exciting first day that included two upsets, the second day in Cluj-Napoca seemed to be a very interesting one and didn’t let down. The first match of the day was a blockbuster, Simona Halep against Petra Kvitova. In a three-set match that lasted two hours and eleven minutes, Romania came on top after Halep won her first match in this tie. Karolina Pliskova had the pressure to keep her team in the game as she would next take on Monica Niculescu. A very impressive performance by both players, but at the end Pliskova was too strong winning the match in three sets. Everything would be decided in the doubles match where Pliskova replaced Allertova and with that completed a perfect weekend in Romania. The Czechs remain unbeaten.
Halep Overcomes Petra Kvitova in Three Sets
The second day would kick off with a match between two world-class players, Simona Halep against Petra Kvitova. It was an interesting match after what happened on day one, both players lost their opening matches after coming into the match as the favorites. Halep was the first one to get a break to lead 2-1 in the first set. The Czech knew she had to make less unforced errors, but that wasn’t in Halep’s plans as she forced Kvitova to make mistakes. At 5-4. Kvitova saved one set point, but after 46 minutes the Romanian won the first set 6-4.
Things weren’t looking good for the Czech as she was broken at the start of the second set after steering a forehand into the net. Kvitova came back to win three consecutive games, but she knew she had to keep the points short as Halep was winning most of the rallies. Kvitova would find herself serving for the set after breaking Halep to lead 5-4. It was not an easy serve game for the Czech as she did two double faults before holding to win the second set 6-3.
At the start of the third set, it seemed like Kvitova had everything in control after breaking the Romanian in the first game, but was broken straight back. The Czech was playing much better than her opening match on Sunday, but Halep was too strong and broke at 5-3 to serve for the match. A wide backhand return handed the victory to Romania, 6-4, 3-6, 3-6.
Pliskova Wins to Level Up at 2-2
The 23-year-old Czech had the pressure to keep her team alive as she would take on Monica Niculescu in the last singles match. The Romanian came into the match with a lot of confidence after beating Kvitova the day before, but her opponent was also feeling confident after her win over Simona Halep. The first set didn’t start very good for the Czech as she was broken in the first game of the match. Niculescu kept the advantage in the first set, but the Czech was playing much better and the break finally came to level the match 3-3. The second break for Pliskova came just in time as she broke the Romanian to win the first set 6-4 after 41 minutes.
Up until 4-2, the Czech seemed to have everything under control and was just two games away from winning the match, but it was not over for the Romanian who came back to level things up at 4-4. The excitement in the crowd grew when Niculescu broke again to serve for the second set. Pliskova fought hard to win the break back and even saved a set point, but a forehand unforced error gave the Romanian the set, 6-4.
The frustration of the Czech was notorious after throwing her racquet down after losing that second set. Still, Pliskova focus seemed to not have been affected as she held her serve comfortably to win the first game of the third set. The Romanian didn’t seem to have the same luck as she struggled to keep her serve. The Czech continued playing very solid, finally getting the break to lead 3-1. Niculescu had two break opportunities in the following game but failed to take them. The world number thirteen served out a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 against Monica Niculescu to level up this tie 2-2.
The Czech Republic Remains Unbeaten
Fresh from her win in her singles matches, Karolina Pliskova was looking to have a perfect weekend winning her three matches after replacing Denisa Allertova in the doubles, pairing up with Barbora Strycova. The Czechs would take on Andreea Mitu and Raluca Olaru for a place in the semifinals. Both teams were looking to preserve their unbeaten record over the past two years.
The Czechs dominated the first set not really giving the Romanians an opportunity, winning the 50% of their break points. After just 35 minutes, the Czechs won the first set 6-2. The second set was not better from the Romanians only winning one more game than in the first set. A long ball from handed the break, the win and pass to the semifinal to the defending champions, winning the doubles rubber 6-3, 6-3.
The real hero of this tie is Karolina Pliskova, winning her three matches. This is a huge achievement for the young Czech who made her Fed Cup debut last year. She has only one match in her Fed Cup career, winning seven matches. Petra Kvitova lost both of her matches, something that had never happened to the best ranked Czech.
For the Romanians, Simona Halep seems to be playing better and announced she would postpone her surgery for an undefined time. “Now I’ve started to play good tennis I don’t want to stop again,” she said. “I had long breaks before, many antibiotics and I have to stay a little bit away from them and then we’ll see – maybe [later] this year I have to do it because it’s better for me.”
The Romanians also have proved to be worthy of being part of the World Group, giving a very tight match against the defending champions.