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Czech Republic repeats as Fed Cup tennis champions

Czech Republic players and captain -- from left, Lucie Hradecka, Petra Kvitova, Petr Pala, Barbora Strycova and Karolina Pliskova -- celebrate after winning the Fed Cup on Sunday.
(Patrick Hertzog / AFP / Getty Images)

Czech Republic cemented its status of best team in the world by retaining its Fed Cup title on Sunday after Barbora Strycova and Karolina Pliskova won the decisive doubles match in the final against France.

The pair beat Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic 7-5, 7-5 to secure a 3-2 win for the Czechs on the indoor hard court at Rhenus Sport Arena.

The Czechs won a fifth title in six years, their 10th overall, and became the first team to win three consecutive Fed Cups since Spain from 1993-95. The Czech Republic has been the dominant team of the decade, winning 16 of its last 17 ties dating back to 2010.

Their skipper, Petr Pala, is now the most successful captain in the competition’s history with five titles to his name.

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“Our secret? Just fighting on every point, fighting until the end,” said Strycova, who also clinched the decisive rubber with Pliskova in last year’s final against Russia.

“It’s a wonderful day. It was not easy, that’s why we are so happy,” Pliskova said, while the French players wiped away their tears.

Strycova was the decisive player on Sunday. Before her impressive display in the doubles, she replaced the injured Petra Kvitova at the last minute to defeat Alize Cornet, 6-2, 7-6 (4), and keep the defending champions alive in the final.

Caroline Garcia had earlier given France a 2-1 lead with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win over sixth-ranked Pliskova.

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Djokovic opens ATP Final with win

Novak Djokovic survived an early setback, and then made it look all too easy.

The second-ranked Serb, who has a chance to reclaim the No. 1 ranking at the O2 Arena next weekend, rallied to beat Dominic Thiem 6-7 (10), 6-0, 6-2 Sunday in his opening match at the season-ending ATP finals.

Djokovic won nine of 10 games to take control of the match after losing the first set in a tiebreaker. And even that was close.

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“Yeah, a thrilling tiebreaker,” Djokovic said. “I had, I think, only one set point. He just played a good point. I was in the rally, but he just was going for his shots.”

Thiem had his first three set points at 6-3 in the tiebreaker, but he double-faulted twice and then put a backhand into the net to make it 6-6.

Djokovic had a chance, too, leading 9-8. But he couldn’t close it out with Thiem serving, eventually hitting a backhand long. The Austrian finally won it on his seventh set point with a forehand winner, prompting Djokovic to smack a ball into the crowd.

After that, it was just about all Djokovic. The Serb reeled off six straight games to send it to a third set, and then broke Thiem twice more to close it out.

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“Even though I lost the first set, I thought I didn’t do too many things wrong,” said Djokovic, who saved the only break point he faced. “It was just the very high quality of his game that prevailed in the first set.”

In the late match, fourth-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada beat sixth-seeded Gael Monfils of France, 6-3, 6-4.

Monfils, who was playing at the ATP finals for the first time, hit a pair of “tweeners” in the match, but it was Raonic that got the breaks — one in each half.


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