Pliskova trashes Muguruza, Czechs lead Spain 2-1 in Fed Cup

Nearly flawless at the net, Strycova showed her dominance over the 24-year-old Spaniard in set two, stepping up her game for a 6-4 win.

Defending champions the Czech Republic are locked in a Fed Cup battle as three of the four quarter-final ties were level at 1-1 after Saturday's play.

After Aliaksandra Sasnovich had stunned Michaela Krajicek 4-6 6-3 6-2 to give the underdogs a surprise lead, Bertens had to fend off a match point against 18-year-old Aryna Sabalenka before claiming a 3-6 7-6 (8/6) 6-4 victory. Meanwhile, the Czech duo of Lucie Safarova and Katerina Siniakova will face Spain's Sara Sorribes Tormo and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez.

Seeking a fourth straight Fed Cup title, and sixth from the last seven editions, the Czechs will face either Germany or the United States in the semi-finals on April 22-23.

Muguruza dominated the opening set, hitting 10 winners compared to Strycova's one.

Pliskova won five of the six matches against her seventh-ranked opponent.

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.

Strycova double faulted to go 3-1 down in the decisive set before Muguruza broke her again for a commanding 5-1 lead. She also got a break for a 3-1 lead in the second.

Their chances have not been helped by a stomach injury to national number two Carla Suarez Navarro which means that world 70 Laura Arruabarrena will likely feature as the second singles player.

  • Julie Sanders