The Fed Cup will have a final this weekend worthy of the top international team tennis competition when the Czech Republic, winners of the competition in three of the last four years, host a loaded Russian team led by former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova.
In Prague the Czechs will be led by two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, joined by Lucie Safarova, Karolina Pliskova and Barbora Strycova
“Sometimes I ask myself ‘Why didn’t I play a team sport?’ because I really like it,” Kvitova said of her zeal for Fed Cup, holding a 25-6 career singles win-loss record. “Because we don’t have much team competition [in tennis] I enjoy it more. For me personally, when I’m playing and I see the bench supporting me, it helps bring a little bit more energy. We’re always able to bring our best in the moment.”
Former Slam champ Anastasia Myskina leads the visiting loaded Russian team comprised of Sharapova and former world No. 2 Svetlana Kuznetsova, along with Ekaterina Makarova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Elena Vesnina.
While the Czechs remain the toast of Fed Cup in recent years (along with Italy which has won four titles in the last nine years), Russia can look back to their golden age when they dominated the cup with consecutive wins in 2004-05, and 2007-08.
“I am looking forward to the final,” said Sharapova, only 5-1 in Fed Cup singles, who did not experience any of this wins for Russia. “It’s something I’ve never been a part of before, so I don’t really know what to expect.”
Sharapova played this year in Russia’s win over Poland but missed the semifinal against Germany with injury. Missing most of the second half of the year, she returned to tour action only recently during the WTA Finals.
“I was really proud of how the team came through in Germany, because I knew they were the underdogs coming into that match,” Sharapova said. “I’m really glad that I have another chance to compete and be part of the team. I had a really terrific experience in Poland with everyone.
The Russians are 0-2 in Fed Cup finals over the last four years.
Against Germany in the semifinals, Russia’s Pavlyuchenkova and Vesnina beat Sabine Lisicki and Andrea Petkovic in the deciding doubles rubber, and doubles could very well decide what critics are pegging as a tight final.
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