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Petra Kvitova, Barbora Strycova win matches vs. Switzerland

Tennis

PRAGUE -- Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and Barbora Strycova won the opening singles matches Saturday to give the Czech Republic a commanding 2-0 lead over Switzerland in the first round of the Fed Cup.

Kvitova put the Czechs ahead after she overcame a second-set scare to beat Viktorija Golubic 6-2, 1-6, 6-3. Strycova doubled the advantage with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Belinda Bencic to put the Czechs one win away from their 10th straight Fed Cup semifinals.

Strycova jumped 4-1 up in the second set before Bencic, the former top-10 player, fought back briefly to reduce the lead to 4-3.

Strycova served the match out on an indoor hard court at Prague's O2 Arena, winning with her first match point due to Bencic's 23rd unforced error.

"It was a solid game from me," Strycova said. "I'm grateful for the point, it's pretty important."

Earlier, the 100th-ranked Golubic double-faulted to drop her serve in the eighth game of the final set, allowing the 21st-ranked Kvitova to serve out the match. The Czech converted her first match point with a backhand volley at the net.

Kvitova hit 32 winners on the way to victory compared to Golubic's 14.

"It was up and down," said Kvitova, who improved to 27-10 in Fed Cup singles. "I started well and she looked a bit nervous at first. But I struggled physically and also mentally in the second."

The reverse singles and the doubles closer are scheduled for Sunday.

In other Fed Cup first-round World Group matches Saturday:

• Kristina Mladenovic beat Kirsten Flipkens 6-2, 6-4 as host France split the opening singles matches in their tie against Belgium.

The 13th-ranked Mladenovic constantly pressured Flipkens' serve, taking five of 11 break-point chances and beating the Belgian for the second time in two career meetings.

Belgium's Elise Mertens, ranked 20th, earlier swept aside Pauline Parmentier 6-2, 6-1 in a one-sided contest where Parmentier, ranked 91st, dropped her serve six times.

France is without Alize Cornet, who has not been selected after she missed three out-of-competition doping tests in the past year. She is under investigation by the International Tennis Federation. France is also missing seventh-ranked Caroline Garcia, who is still declining to play for France as she gives priority to her singles career.

France and Belgium are meeting for a fifth time, with France leading 3-1 overall and Belgium winning their last meeting in 2000. The winner faces the United States or the Netherlands in the semifinals in April.

• Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus held off Tatjana Maria, who was making her first Fed Cup appearance for Germany in seven years, as the two countries ended Day 1 tied 1-1.

Sabalenka won 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 to improve to 2-0 over her career against Maria.

Germany pulled even as Antonia Lottner won her Fed Cup debut with a 7-5, 6-4 victory against Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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