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By Chris Oddo | Saturday February 10, 2018

Petra Kvitova

Petra Kvitova and Barbora Strycova guided the Czechs to a Day 1 blanking of Switzerland in Prague.

Photo Source: EPA

After a stirring tribute to recently deceased Jana Novotna, it wasn’t easy for Petra Kvitova and her Czech teammates to think about tennis.

“We went onto the court and held the minute’s silence which made us cry,” Kvitova said after earning a three-set victory over Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic. “We thought, what a beginning, it’s not ideal to go out there and play tennis right now.”

There was a large portrait of Novotna hanging, and a prolonged moment of silence that turned into applause. A beautiful, stirring moment for a player that gave everything to tennis—heart and soul—and left the world too soon.

She passed away after a long battle with cancer last November, aged 49.

“It was very sad... but a nice gesture,” Kvitova said.

In Novotna's honor the Czechs took care of business on this emotional day. Fearless leader Kvitova rallied for a hard-fought 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 victory, which was followed by Barbora Strycova’s straight-sets victory over Belinda Bencic, 6-2, 6-4.

“I thought Barbora’s match was a 50-50 match and I’m very pleased with the way she played,” Czech captain Petr Pala said. “She got Belinda out of her rhythm and did well to close it out.”

Bencic and Kvitova will contest the first reverse singles rubber on Sunday, with the Czechs bidding to clinch their 17th tie out of their last 19. The Czechs have won five of the last seven Fed Cup titles.

Williams Leads the Way for Team U.S.A. Sweep

Contesting her 1000th professional match, Venus Williams had little trouble with Arantxa Rus in Asheville. The legendary American notched her 776th career win, 6-1, 6-4, behind four aces, five winners and five of fourteen break points converted. Serena Williams was held out of action on Saturday, but the 23-time Grand Slam champion remains available if needed.

For those scoring at home, Serena, father and child were all in attendance and enjoying the festivities in Asheville.

In the second rubber, CoCo Vandeweghe won her 13th consecutive Fed Cup match and staked the Americans to what looks to be an insurmountable lead by battling from a set down to defeat Richel Hogenkamp, 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-3.

Belgium Splits with France Elise Mertens answered the bell for Belgium, improving to 5-0 lifetime in Fed Cup with a win over Pauline Parmentier to give Belgium a lead before Kristina Mladenovic defeated Kirsten Flipkens to level the tie. Mertens and Mladenovic will contest the reverse singles first on Sunday, and the tie could hinge on the result. Mladenovic owns a 2-1 lifetime edge over Mertens.

Belarus and Germany All Square 19-year-old Aryna Sabalenko defeated Tatjana Maria in three sets to stake last year’s runner-up to an early lead but Germany leveled with Belarus when Antonia Lottner took out Aliaksandra Sasnovich in straights.


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