Kenin, Riske to Lead U.S.
on Day 1 of 2018 Fed Cup Final
Pat Mitsch | November 9, 2018
The matchups that will begin this weekend’s Fed Cup Final between the U.S. and Czech Republic turned out to look far different than originally anticipated when each team nominated its initial roster 10 days ago.
At Friday’s official draw ceremony, held inside Prague’s Town Hall, it was revealed that U.S. Captain Kathy Rinaldi nominated world No. 52 Sofia Kenin and No. 63 Alison Riske as her No. 1 and No. 2 singles players, respectively, while Czech Captain Petr Pala nominated No. 31 Katerina Siniakova and No. 33 Barbora Strycova.
Rinaldi cited the 28-year old Riske’s prior Fed Cup experience and affinity for playing on indoor hard courts as reasons why the Pittsburgh native got the nod over No. 36 Danielle Collins, the Americans’ top-ranked singles player for this tie. Meanwhile, the world No. ADVERTISEMENT 7 Kvitova was only nominated for Sunday’s doubles after being sick all week, another misfortune for a Czech squad that had already lost world No. 8 Karolina Pliskova, who withdrew from this weekend’s matches with a torn calf.
Kvitova and Collins may still play singles on Sunday, as each captain may change their nominations up to one hour prior to the start of those matches. But the first two singles pairings in the best-of-five series will begin with Kenin, an American playing her first Fed Cup match, taking on Strycova, a Czech playing her last.
This will be the first meeting between the Fed Cup rookie Kenin and the two-time champion Strycova, who announced on Thursday that this would be her last Fed Cup tie. The 19-year old Kenin, who turns 20 on November 14, will join only CoCo Vandeweghe (2010) as American teenagers to make their Fed Cup debut in a Final. Strycova, meanwhile, has figured prominently in two of the Czechs’ recent Fed Cup titles, helping to clinch victories in 2015 over Russia and 2016 over France in fifth-and-decisive doubles matches, with Pliskova. The 2015 Final was played on the same surface in the same venue as this weekend’s tie – a hard court inside the 10,700-seat O2 Arena.
The Americans are hoping those conditions benefit them in Saturday’s second match in particular, between Riske and Siniakova. The veteran on a team with three rookies, Riske, who was nominated for last year’s Final vs. Belarus but didn’t end up playing, cited her comfortability on indoor hard courts from growing up training primarily in the northeast U.S. Indeed, Riske won five $50,000-and-above-level Pro Circuit tournaments played on indoor hard courts earlier in her career. Siniakova leads the head-to-head between these two, 2-1, though Riske won their most recent meeting, earlier this year at the hard-court event in Hobart, Australia.
Play will begin at 2 p.m. local time (8 a.m. ET) on Saturday. Sunday’s matches will begin at noon local time (6 a.m. ET), with the two reverse singles matches followed by a possible fifth-and-decisive doubles match. A revised schedule for Sunday may take place if a team clinches in the third or fourth match. Tennis Channel will present live daily coverage.
Singles A: Sofia Kenin (USA) vs. Barbora Strycova (CZE)
Singles B: Alison Riske (USA) vs. Katerina Siniakova (CZE)
Singles C: Sofia Kenin (USA) vs. Katerina Siniakova (CZE)
Singles D: Alison Riske (USA) vs. Barbora Strycova (CZE)
Doubles: Danielle Collins/Nicole Melichar (USA) vs. Katerina Siniakova/Barbora Krejcikova (CZE)