The Czech bullet train just could not be stopped as they seem on course for a fourth title in the past five years. Czech Republic owns a commanding 2-0 lead over the USA in the 2018 Fed Cup final after Katerina Siniakova stormed to an excellent 6-3, 7-6 win over Alison Riske within just an hour and 38-minutes of play.
It was a close first set with just one break of serve separating both players on the scoreboard, but Riske would have rued her chances in the second set having led by a break but failing to capitalize on her lead. This loss for the USA team would prove costly as they now need to win both singles rubbers on Day Two of action to have any chance of prevailing. Furthermore, Czech Republic can still field their top player Petra Kvitova, who is unfortunately still recovering from an illness, if needed.
Siniakova took the initiative on many occasions — firing 19 winners which came alongside 23 unforced errors. Riske had the cleaner statistics with 15 winners and just 16 unforced errors, but she committed 29 forced errors as compared to the Czech’s 22. Siniakova was efficient off both wings but the American struggled on her backhand, finding just one winner behind it throughout the entire match.
Siniakova takes the first set
It was a shaky start from both players with neither able to find their range and look comfortable out on the court. The pressure was building up but Siniakova managed to impress in front of her home crowd by fending off a break point in the opening game. Riske’s inability to convert her chances proved costly as she had to survive a tricky service game which followed.
The series of break points continued to arrive, but the first break only came in the fourth game as Siniakova pumped herself up with some fantastic aggressive play. Although the American soon broke back, Siniakova found a way to regain the lead and tightly held onto that hard-fought lead to take the first set 6-3.
Siniakova overcomes the early deficit, earns the win
Surprisingly, it was Riske who jumped out to an early 3-1 lead in the second set as she looked to overcome the disappointment of losing the tight opening frame. She charged towards the net more often and looked to dominate that area of the court, giving Siniakova a taste of her own medicine. The relatively fast courts seemed to have suited Riske, who embraced the speed of the courts, but Siniakova was not lagging behind either, building onto her home support to break straight back.
The pressue finally had its impact on the American as Riske struggled to remain composed — gifting Siniakova with the golden opportunity to serve out the match. However, she was also the one who found her ‘A’ game just when it mattered, breaking back at the eleventh hour to remain in contention. Nonetheless, Siniakova dominated the tiebreak and claimed the impressive win for her country after 98 minutes of play.