The final of the Fed Cup takes place in Moscow next weekend and whilst
Russia have the home tie, they know they’ll be up against tough opponents in
the shape of the Czech Republic, who are looking to win for the first time since 1988.
2011 Fed Cup so far
The Russians come into this one on the back of a huge 5-0 win, in the
semi-finals, over defending Fed Cup Champions and the No.1 ranked country in
the world, Italy.
Led by captain, Shamil Tarpischev, Russia have not had everything their own way, on
route to the final they needed to come through a tense encounter with France in the
First Round before eventually prevailing 3-2, following the deciding rubber.
The Czech team are led by captain, Petr Pala and boast the strengths of
Wimbledon Champion and current World No.3, Petra Kvitova in their ranks.
The Czechs are currently ranked behind Italy
and Russia, at World No.3,
and have squeezed through their two previous matches with 3-2 wins against Slovak Republic
Both teams have announced their official team nominations for November’s
final and, at this stage, it’s the Russians who appear to have most strength in
depth. Vera Zvonareva, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Maria
Kirilenko make up the Russian squad and all four players are currently ranked
inside the World’s Top 30 in singles. Kirilenko is the lowest ranked singles
player in the team but her strengths will be put to use in the doubles, where
she is currently ranked at World No.5
The Czech team will
be made up of Petra
Kvitova, Lucie Safarova, Lucie Hradecka and Kveta Peschke. Kvitova is clearly
the top singles player for the team and having won all four of the rubbers she
has played on the way to the final, the pressure will really be on her to take
another two points for the team here. Backing Kvitova up in the singles will
likely be Lucie Safarova. Currently ranked at World No.24, the 24-year-old did
record an impressive singles victory over Daniella Hantuchova in the first
round, but lost to Cepelova in her second rubber and was comprehensively beaten
Francesca Schiavone in last year’s semi-final tie.
Along with Petra Kvitova, the
Czechs will be hopeful that a strong doubles combination can tilt the tie in
their favor. 36-year-old Kveta Peschke is currently ranked at No.2 in the World
for Doubles and like her compatriot, Kvitova, is a current Wimbledon Champion.
Peschke will most likely team up with Lucie Hradecka, ranked at No.15 in
The Czechs have won this
event on five occasions previously, although it’s been well over 20 years since
their last victory in 1988 and they have actually never won the event under the
name of the Czech
Russia have won one less title than their Czech
counterparts but most significantly, all of their four wins have come since
2004. They last won the title in 2008 and before finally winning their first
Fed Cup in 2004, Russia had lost four finals in succession.
The tennis odds makers have Russia as the
clear favorites to win this one and considering they will have home advantage,
and are coming in off the back of a 5-0 victory over the defending Champions,
it’s very easy to see why the odds are strongly in their favor.
Petra Kvitova is key to Czech
success and she will most likely need to win both her singles rubbers, to give
her team a chance. Whilst the 21-year-old powerhouse had a storming first half
of 2011, culminating in her Wimbledon glory, things have not gone so well
since, and despite a 4-0 record in Fed Cup matches so far this season, it’s
very difficult to see the young Czech beating two of the highest ranked Russian
players over one weekend.
I’d expect to see the
Russians take their fifth title here without too much fuss. Kvitova will
certainly be capable of winning one of her rubbers and the Czechs could do well
in the doubles, however, I think there’s every chance the Russians could come
out winners with maybe a 4-1 score line.
To Win Fed Cup – Pinnacle
Russia – 1.437
Czech Republic – 3.000