Day 1 Finals
Russia vs Czech Rep 12:00 SS6
Day 2 Finals
Russia vs Czech Rep 12:00 SS6
MOSCOW - Petra Kvitova will have a chance to cap her remarkable season by leading the Czech Republic to its first Fed Cup win in 23 years this weekend against a Russia team struggling with injuries.
Kvitova is coming off her first WTA Championships title that lifted her to No. 2 in the world rankings, and is expected to play singles along with Lucie Safarova for the Czech team.
“I know that I’m No. 1 and there will be pressure on me,” Kvitova said at a news conference on Wednesday. “But still we have a great team and hopefully we will get three points. We will do our best this weekend.”
Kvitova started the year ranked outside the top 30 but won Wimbledon for her first Grand Slam title and beat Victoria Azarenka in the WTA Championships final in Istanbul on Sunday.
Russia, meanwhile, is still trying to determine who will be its No. 1 singles player, as seventh-ranked Vera Zvonareva has inflammation in her right shoulder which could jeopardize her participation in the final. Russia also has Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Maria Kirilenko in the team.
Zvonareva suffered from pain in her shoulder and was close to retire before losing on the same court in the quarterfinals of the Kremlin Cup two weeks ago. In Istanbul last week, the Russian won only one of her four matches.
“First of all, one’s serve suffers from such an injury,” Russia captain Shamil Tarpischev said. “But it’s useless to play against the Czechs without a solid serve. You have to hold your serve first. And Kvitova will hold hers.”
Tarpischev said doctors are working with Zvonareva but “we will have to wait for the outcome.”
Tarpischev hopes that a slow hard court at the Olympic indoor stadium will benefit his team and slow down Kvitova’s speedy game.
“It will be easier to cope with her (Kvitova’s) speed and vary the height of the ball’s bounce,” Tarpischev said. “The task will be not only to try to overplay her with the power of the shot but beat her tactically as well. If we are able to do this then not only Zvonareva can beat Kvitova.”
The Czechs might have one more advantage—both Kvitova and Safarova are left-handers.
“I think it’s always an advantage in tennis and that’s the main reason why they (Kvitova and Safarova) are here,” Czech captain Petr Pala said. “And hopefully it’s going to work again.”
Kvitova won all four of her singles matches this year as the Czechs beat Slovakia and Belgium on the way to the final.
But Tarpischev called up a couple of Russian lefties to practice with the team.
“We were considered to be the favorites for this tie by midseason, but now chances of both teams are even,” Tarpischev said. “Now we feel no pressure and it makes our task easier.”
A four-time champion, Russia is back on home turf for the final of the competition for the first time since routing Italy 4-0 here in 2007 for its third crown. The Czechs are five-time winners, but their last final appearance was in 1988 when Czechoslovakia beat the Soviet Union 2-1.
Russia is unbeaten at home in 10 ties since losing to eventual champion France in the semifinals in 2003.
“But obviously we came (here) not like underdogs, we came to win and we are going to do everything to achieve it,” Pala said.