Paris (AFP) – Madison Keys predicted “a crazy” Fed Cup final against the Czech Republic after seeing off Pauline Parmentier to fire the United States past France in Sunday’s semi-final.
Keys, 13th in the world, defeated the 122nd-ranked Parmentier 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 to earn the defending champions a 3-1 win in Aix-en-Provence.
Waiting for the US in the November final are the Czechs, who swept past Germany 4-1 in the other semi-final in Stuttgart.
The US match winner Keys, who battled back after trailing Parmentier 4-1 in the first set, said: “It feels amazing, but not for me — but to do that for this team and help us back to the final.
“I knew (Pauline) would play well, she was so good against Sloane (Stephens) yesterday.
“I love playing in atmospheres like this, even if they are not all cheering for you it still makes for a great game. It is going to be a crazy final.”
US Open champion Stephens had put the US on the verge of the final after brushing aside Kristina Mladenovic 6-2, 6-0 in Sunday’s first rubber.
“She (Stephens) had an answer for everything,” shrugged the world number 20.
It was Mladenovic who had given France a fighting chance when ending Coco Vandeweghe’s 13-match Fed Cup win streak to pull France level at 1-1 on Saturday.
But she was unable to repeat those heroics against Stephens who had given the Americans their first point when defeating Parmentier 7-6 (7/3), 7-5 in Saturday’s opening match.
France were always going to face an uphill task, missing a posse of established stars like world number seven Caroline Garcia in captain Yannick Noah’s Fed Cup swansong.
– Lifeline –
Earlier, Petra Kvitova put the Czech Republic into a sixth Fed Cup final in eight years following her 6-2, 6-2 win against Angelique Kerber.
After the Czechs had surged 2-0 up on Saturday, Julia Goerges had given hosts Germany a brief lifeline by beating Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 6-2 before Kvitova’s decisive win.
“I am very relieved. I was getting nervous before this game,” admitted Kvitova after the 30th win of her Fed Cup career.
“We had a great position from yesterday, I think Julia played a really good match.
“I knew we still needed one point from our last two games and I just did my best.”
In Sunday’s concluding dead doubles, Barbora Strycova and Katerina Siniakova took the first set 7-5 before being awarded the match when Goerges, playing alongside Anna-Lena Groenefeld, retired hurt.
It was a bitter end to the day for Goerges.
She had pulled the Germans back into the tie with a determined win over Pliskova only for Kerber to fail to maintain the momentum against Kvitova.
“It will take a while to get over it,” admitted Kerber.
“We all know that was a great opportunity for us,” she added, as the Germans missed out on a first appearance in the Fed Cup final since 2014.
The Czechs, who have home advantage over the Americans in the November 10-11 final, had won the title three times in a row until the US dethroned them last year.