Mlade­n­ovic, Gar­cia to spear­head France in Fed Cup fi­nal

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

France cap­tain Amelie Mau­resmo kept faith in the same play­ers for the Fed Cup fi­nal against the two-time de­fend­ing cham­pion Czech Re­pub­lic next week.

Caro­line Gar­cia, Kristina Mlade­n­ovic, Al­ize Cor­net, and Pauline Par­men­tier were picked yes­ter­day to face the Czechs at home in Stras­bourg on Nov. 12-13 on an in­door hard court.

The same quar­tet de­feated the Nether­lands in the semi­fi­nals. The Czechs are bid­ding for a fifth ti­tle in six years, and won the most re­cent meet­ing be­tween the teams, in the semi­fi­nals last year. France has reached the fi­nal for the first time since 2005, and will be bid­ding for a third ti­tle.

While the Czechs were fa­vorites, Mau­resmo said France was far from daunted. “When you com­pare our­selves to the teams that have been win­ning this com­pe­ti­tion, they al­ways have a top-10 player, and one or two play­ers who won a Grand Slam ti­tle or made it to a ma­jor fi­nal,” she said. “But the rank­ings re­flect a 52-week sea­son. We only need two days.

“A lot of things can hap­pen over two days and five matches. The girls are ca­pa­ble of rais­ing their level to beat top play­ers.”

The Czech team fea­tures six­thranked Karolina Pliskova, two-time Wim­ble­don cham­pion Pe­tra Kvi­tova, Barbora Strycova, and Lu­cie Hradecka.

“It’s ob­vi­ously a tall or­der,” Maursemo said. “They are not only very strong on pa­per, but they have also been play­ing at a very high level in this par­tic­u­lar com­pe­ti­tion.”

Mlade­n­ovic and Gar­cia, who have fea­tured in ev­ery French rub­ber this year, were cleared to play after the French Ten­nis Fed­er­a­tion lifted their ban in Septem­ber. The pair was pro­vi­sion­ally sus­pended for “dam­ag­ing” the fed­er­a­tion’s im­age at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, where the play­ers crit­i­cized the FTT over a cloth­ing mixup after their de­feat in the first round of the dou­bles. Mau­resmo said she thought about giv­ing a nod to the upand-com­ing Oceane Dodin, who won her maiden WTA ti­tle in Que­bec City in Septem­ber. But the co­he­sion of her team pre­vailed over the 71st-ranked player’s form.

“I thought a lot about it, it was log­i­cal given her re­sults over the past months,” Mau­resmo said. “It’s al­ways a dif­fi­cult task to find the right bal­ance be­tween the re­sults of each player and the team spirit.” — AP

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