Garbine Muguruza of Spain plays the ball against Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic during their Fed Cup World Group first round match between Czech Republic and Spain in Ostrava, Czech Republic, Sunday Feb. 12, 2017. (Jaroslav Ozana/CTK via AP)
AP Photo
February 12, 2017

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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