Fed Cup 2019: Halep and Pliskova win opening Fed Cup rubbers

Fed Cup 2019: Halep and Pliskova win opening Fed Cup rubbers

The 26-year-old Czech tennis star has arrived in Doha following her loss to Romania's Simona Halep in Fed Cup on Sunday, just in time for her first match at the Qatar Total Open that kicked off yesterday.

French Open champion Halep has already vowed to win a first Fed Cup for Romania before she retires, describing it as "the first thing on her bucket list now" having ticked off a maiden Grand Slam crown at Roland Garros past year. "I still made it to Singapore, which is always a good effort", the tall Czech added.

Katerina Siniakova played with a lot of pressure on her back but she managed to outplay Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-4, 6-2 in an hour and 26 minutes, leveling the score at 2-2 before the doubles rubber that had to decide the victor of this outstanding tie.

The top four seeds in Doha have been given byes into the second round, and with many players still to arrive after the weekend's Fed Cup in different parts of the world, only one main draw match - between the Czech Republic's Barbora Strycova and Oman's wildcard Fatma al-Nabhani - was scheduled yesterday, the Qatar event's official first day.

Belgium would claim a consolation victory in the doubles rubber but Garcia's win meant France had already advanced to a home semi-final tie.

In Liege, two-time champions France dominated Belgium for a 2-0 lead.

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But reigning French Open champion Halep responded to get her country back on level terms in Ostrava, defeating Katerina Siniakova 6-4, 6-0 to leave the tie poised at 1-1 ahead of her showdown with Pliskova.

It was a similar finish in Australia's 3-2 win over the U.S.in North Carolina, with Ash Barty and Priscilla Hon beating Danielle Collins and Nicole Melichar 6-4, 7-5 in the deciding doubles.

Belarus is in a similarly strong position, thanks to Aliaksandra Sasnovich's 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 success over Tatjana Maria in Braunschweig combined with Aryna Sabalenka's 6-2, 6-1 demolition of Andrea Petkovic.

Earlier, Barty beat Madison Keys 6-4, 6-1 to give Australia a 2-1 lead. "I had changes in the team a little bit, so for sure (it) was not the best season but not the worst", Pliskova, champion in Doha in 2017, said yesterday.

"Well, to play Simona I have to win four more matches, so this is very far".

Top 20 player Caroline Garcia, returning to the French squad for the first time in two years after a bitter fall-out with teammates following the 2016 final, earned the opening point with a 7-6 (7/2), 4-6, 6-2 win over Alison Van Uytvanck.

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