Kvitova, Pavlyuchenkova to open Fed Cup final
PRAGUE: Petra Kvitova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will open the Fed Cup final tie between holders the Czech Republic and Russia in Prague today, following yesterday’s draw. Kvitova, the world number six and the Czech number one, will take on 28th-ranked Pavlyuchenkova on the hardcourt of Prague’s O2 Arena from 1300 GMT. Czech number two Karolina Pliskova, ranked 11th, will then face fourth-ranked Russian number one Maria Sharapova in the hosts’ quest for the fourth trophy in five years.
In Sunday’s reverse singles, Kvitova will first play against Sharapova and Pliskova will then take on Pavlyuchenkova. Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova were drawn against Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova for Sunday’s doubles.
“We have already won twice at home (in 2012 and 2014) and we are glad to have strong opponents-the happier we will be when we win,” said Kvitova. Czech captain Petr Pala chose Pliskova over a higher-ranking Safarova for singles, while his Russian counterpart Anastasia Myskina picked Pavlyuchenkova over a better-placed Makarova. But Makarova and teammate Elena Vesnina are in the top ten for doubles which would decide the tie if it gets down to 2-2 on Sunday. “I made the decision after the morning training today,” said Pala. “Lucie told me she didn’t feel a hundred percent fit so my decision was clear.”
Pliskova, who has played six WTA tournament finals this year and won one, said she was looking forward to facing Sharapova in their first-ever encounter. “It will definitely be my greatest game ever,” said the 23-year-old.
“I will know it’s Sharapova, but there’s no room for respect on the court.” Sharapova, who has played only four Fed Cup ties in her career, said she was “excited” to face Pliskova. “It is a bit of a surprise that I haven’t played against her since I’ve been on the tour quite long.” “She’s up and coming, she’s had really good results this year and of course when you don’t know what to expect in a completely new match and in the atmosphere I think it will be about competing ... and doing the best that you can.”
After being sidelined with leg and arm problems in July, Sharapova returned to action at the WTA Tour Finals last month, where she lost to Kvitova in the semi-finals.
The two nations have met five times in the Fed Cup before but three of those meetings were between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union. The Czech team lead their head-tohead record with Russia 3-2, including a victory in the most recent encounter in the 2011 final in Moscow. The Czechs have won the trophy eight times, including five victories as Czechoslovakia which went on to split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993. Four-time champions Russia will be playing in their 11th Fed Cup final. — AFP
PRAGUE: Petra Kvitova (L) of the Czech tennis Fed Cup team poses with Maria Sharapova of the Russian Fed Cup team after the International Tennis Federation Fed Cup final draw ceremony yesterday in Prague. The Fed Cup final, Czech Republic against Russia, is scheduled today. — AFP