Pliskova to lead Czechs in Fed Cup after Kvitova pulls out

FILE - In this Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019 file photo, Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic makes a backhand return to Japan's Naomi Osaka during their semifinal at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia. Karolina Pliskova will lead defending champion Czech Republic at first round of the Fed Cup against Romania on Feb. 9-10, 2019. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung/File)

PRAGUE — Karolina Pliskova will be the top player for defending Fed Cup champion Czech Republic in its first-round meeting with Romania, after Australian Open finalist Petra Kvitova pulled out.

Pliskova lost in the Australian Open semifinals this month to Naomi Osaka, who then defeated Kvitova in the final.

Katerina Siniakova, who won both her singles matches to help the Czechs beat the United States 3-0 in the final in November, is also on the team for the Feb. 9-10 meeting on an indoor hardcourt in the city of Ostrava.

Barbora Krejcikova, who won the mixed doubles at the Australian Open, and Marketa Vondrousova have also been named in the team by captain Petr Pala.

The winner will face France or Belgium in the semifinals in April.

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