Kvi­tova, Pav­lyuchenkova to open Fed Cup fi­nal

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

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

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