Pliskova is Czech hero in Fed Cup triumph over Russia
By Michael Kahn
PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech Republic defended their Fed Cup title on Sunday as Karolina Pliskova became the home team's hero with a starring performance in their thrilling 3-2 come-from-behind victory over Russia.
Pliskova not only won her singles rubber to tie the match at 2-2 but then returned to the court after just a 30-minute break to help secure another comeback victory in the final set of the deciding doubles.
It enabled the Czechs to celebrate their fourth Fed Cup triumph in five years in the event regarded as the World Cup of women's tennis -- and they succeeded despite Russian star Maria Sharapova winning both her singles matches over the weekend.
Having started the day level at 1-1, the home side fell behind in the best-of-five series after Sharapova defeated their top player, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the opening match of the day.
The 23-year-old Pliskova, playing in her first Fed Cup final, tied the score after cruising to a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova with a service game and punishing forehand that overpowered the Russian.
Pliskova was then forced to return to the court and partner Barbora Strycova in the decisive doubles after world No. 4 Lucie Safarova was unable to play due to an injury.
Though the pair lost the first set and looked in deep trouble, they rebounded to earn a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Russian pair, Elena Vesnina and Pavlkyuchenkova.
Pliskova, who reckoned she was not worried about fatigue after being thrust into the key doubles, said: "Even though we lost the first set, we believed we could win. Continued...