OSTRAVA, Czech Republic (AP) — Barbora Strycova sent defending champion Czech Republic to the semifinals of the Fed Cup with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Lara Arruabarrena of Spain in the second reverse singles match on Sunday.
The 17th-ranked Strycova failed to serve it out at 5-2, wasting two match points before closing out the encounter with a backhand drop shot on her fifth match point.
Her victory gave the Czech Republic an insurmountable 3-1 lead over Spain in the best-of-five first-round series.
In the final doubles match, the Spanish duo of Sara Sorribes Tormo and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez beat Lucie Safarova and Katerina Siniakova 6-3, 4-6, 10-7 to reduce the Czech victory to 3-2.
The Czechs, who have won five of the last six Fed Cup titles, will face the United States or Germany in the World Group semifinals in April.
Strycova smashed a forehand winner to get a break in the fifth game of the second set and did the same in the seventh game to build a commanding 5-2 lead.
In the opening set, Strycova wasted a set point at 5-3 before serving it out at the Ostravar Arena in the eastern city of Ostrava.
The Czech had broken for a 4-3 lead and held her following service game that took almost 12 minutes with an overhead volley.
“That was a decisive game,” Strycova said.
Earlier, third-ranked Karolina Pliskova eased past French Open champion Garbine Muguruza 6-2, 6-2 in the first reverse singles to put the Czechs 2-1 ahead on the indoor hardcourt.
Pliskova won five of the six matches against her seventh-ranked opponent.
Big-hitting Pliskova had five aces and hit one of her 10 forehand winners to go 3-1 up in the opening set. She also got a break for a 3-1 lead in the second.
On Saturday, Muguruza defeated Strycova 6-0, 3-6, 6-1 in the opening singles to put Spain 1-0 ahead before Pliskova tied it at 1-1 with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Arruabarrena.
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