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By Tennis Now | Friday, November 9, 2018

 
Fed Cup finals

American Sofia Kenin makes her Fed Cup debut opening against Czech Barbora Strycova, while Grand Slam champion Petra Kvitova was ruled out for opening day in Prague.

Photo credit: @Fed Cup

There's a first time for everything and Sofia Kenin's first time comes in the Fed Cup final.

The 19-year-old Kenin will make her Fed Cup debut opening the final against Czech veteran Barbora Strycova tomorrow at the O2 Arena in Prague. The first meeting between the 52nd-ranked American and the 33rd-ranked Czech launches the final between the defending-champion United States and perennial power Czech Republic.

Watch: Czechs Heavily Favored Against Americans in Prague

American Alison Riske takes on Czech Grand Slam doubles champion Katerina Siniakova in tomorrow's second singles match.




The defending-champion United States has a cast of new characters for its title defense as veterans Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys, CoCo Vandeweghe and Bethanie Mattek-Sands opted out for this final.

Captain Kathy Rinaldi's crew caught a bit of a break at today's draw ceremony when two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was not selected as an opening-day starter for captain Petr Pala's squad.

Kvitova, who is 30-10 lifetime in Fed Cup singles, including an undefeated record this season, is out with an illness. The left-hander could be called into play in Sunday's reverse singles if necessary.



As it stands now, Siniakova is scheduled to play Kenin on Sunday with Strycova slated to face Riske in Sunday's final reverse singles. The doubles match that concludes the best-of-five match final is schedule to pit Siniakova and Barbora Krejcikova against Danielle Collins and Nicole Melichar.

Defending-champion United States is 5-0 since Rinaldi succeeded Mary Joe Fernandez as U.S. captain in December, 2016. However, even without Kvitova playing opening day the host remains a massive favorite.

The Czech Republic is riding a 10-tie winning streak on home soil as it plays for its sixth Fed Cup crown in the last eight years.

The Czech Republic owns a 10-1 record in Fed Cup finals with its lone loss coming to an all-star American squad of Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver, who are all in the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

 

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