Fed Cup 2019: Halep and Pliskova win opening Fed Cup rubbers

Romanian number one Simona Halep
World number three Simona Halep hopes to guide Romania to their first ever Fed Cup victory

Former world number ones Karolina Pliskova and Simona Halep won their opening matches in the Fed Cup World Group to leave holders the Czech Republic and Romania tied at 1-1.

Czech world number five Pliskova beat Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-1 6-4 before Romanian Halep defeated Katerina Siniakova 6-4 6-0.

Pliskova and world number three Halep meet in the reverse singles on Sunday.

The Czech Republic are seeking an 11th successive appearance in the last four.

Elsewhere in the other best-of-five top-tier ties, two-time champions France took a 2-0 lead over Belgium following wins for world number 19 Caroline Garcia and Alize Cornet, ranked 51.

Garcia, returning to the French squad for the first time since a public falling-out with her team-mates in 2016, beat Belgium number two Alison van Uytvanck 7-6 (7-2) 4-6 6-2.

"There was a little stress, a little tension," said French number one Garcia. "But it was the same thing the last time I came back to the team - nothing different, nothing more."

Cornet saw off Belgian world number 21 Elise Mertens 7-6 (8-6) 6-2 following an 82-minute opening set to pick up her first Fed Cup victory for five years.

Straight-set victories for Aliaksandra Sasnovich and Aryna Sabalenka gave 2017 runners-up Belarus a 2-0 lead over Germany.

Sasnovich defeated Tatjana Maria 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 before world number nine Sabalenka beat Andrea Petkovic 6-2 6-1 in just over an hour.

The winners of that tie will face last year's runners-up the United States or seven-time champions Australia after the competition's two most successful nations ended the opening day with a 1-1 draw.

Australian Open quarter-finalist Ashleigh Barty beat American Sofia Kenin 6-1 7-6 (7-2) before world number 17 Madison Keys defeated Kimberly Birrell 6-2 6-2 to pull the US level.

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