Czech Republic beat France to retain the Fed Cup
Czech Republic cemented their place as best women's team in the world as they retained the Fed Cup title, defeating France 3-2 in the finals. The Czechs recovered from a 1-2 deficit, in the best-of-five tie. Karolina Pliskova and Barbora Strycova beat France's Caroline Garcia and Kiki Mladenovic, in the decisive doubles match, to wrap up the Czech's 3rd consecutive title.
Fed Cup summary
Federation Cup or Fed Cup is the annual international team competition in women's tennis. It was first played in 1963 and the inaugural edition was won by the American team led by Billie Jean King. With 17 titles, US are the most successful nation in the competition. While the first Fed Cup attracted 16 nations, the latest edition, 2016 Fed Cup had 102 entries.
Team sport equivalent of Davis Cup
Fed Cup is the women's equivalent of Davis Cup. In a individualistic sport like tennis, these competitions offer a chance to players to play for their country as a team.
While many countries take part in Fed Cup every year, only 16 teams qualify for the World Groups - 8-nation World Group I and 8-nation World Group II. Four nations that win the World Group I first round ties proceed to the Semis and subsequent finals. All the four nations are guaranteed a berth in the World Group I for the following year.
What about the World Group II?
The four teams that win the World Group II first round ties progress to World Group playoffs. In the playoffs, they compete with the four first round losers from the World Group I, to secure a berth in the top 8 of the World Group I that compete in the following year. Four losers in World Group II contest the World Group II playoffs.
World Group ties are best-of-five
World Group ties are contested in a best-of-five rubbers format. Thus a Fed Cup champion from World Group I plays three 5-rubber ties - first round tie win ensures Semis, second round tie win secures finals, and final tie win makes one Champion.
2016 Fed Cup highlights
8 teams that were drawn together to play in Fed Cup 2016 World Group I were - Czech Republic, Russia, Germany, Italy, Romania, Netherlands, France, and Switzerland. Of these teams that played quarterfinals, Czech Republic, Switzerland, France, and Netherlands made it to the Semis. Further, Czech Republic defeated Switzerland (3-2) and France beat Netherlands (3-2), and progressed to the final.
A 5th title in 6 years
The 2016 Fed Cup title is the Czech's fifth title in six years, having won it before in - 2011, 2012, 2014, and 2015. It also brings up their total number of titles to 10 (5 of the titles were won as Czechoslovakia).