Caroline Garcia put on another aggressive display to floor world number six Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 and give France a 2-1 lead over defending champions Czech Republic in the Fed Cup final on Sunday.
Garcia, who beat Petra Kvitova on Saturday to level for 1-1 after Pliskova had put the visitors ahead with an epic win against Kristina Mladenovic, prevailed on her first match point to put France within one point of their first title since 2003. Mladenovic takes on world number 11 Kvitova in Sunday’s second reverse singles as the Czech Republic seek a fifth title in six years.
“It was a good match. We knew we had to play our best tennis. We’re 2-1 up but it’s not over yet,” said Garcia. There was a minute of applause before the start of play, in memory of the 130 people who were killed in the Paris attacks one year ago.
World number 23 Garcia got off to a great start, breaking for 3-1 thanks to some aggressive tennis. The Frenchwoman held her ground and gave little breathing space to her opponent, bagging the opening set on her first opportunity when Pliskova’s backhand sailed long.
Garcia, however, lost focus in the second set, allowing Pliskova to race to a 3-0 lead. The local favourite saved three break points in the sixth game as the U.S. Open finalist played with more accuracy and then fought off two set points in the eighth.
The Czech served it out in the following game, levelling the match with a crosscourt forehand winner. Pliskova, however, came under pressure on her serve in the decider and she cracked in the eighth game, conceding a break when Garcia fired a splendid return winner.
The Frenchwoman kept her composure as she served for the match, raising her arms in celebration when Pliskova returned wide.