Czechs Face Italians, Russia Takes On Serbia
Published April 20, 2012 12:00
The stars of the WTA will take to tennis courts around the world in Fed Cup play this weekend, and not just in the World Group semifinals, also in the play-offs.
Over in Moscow, four-time Fed Cup champions Russia will take on first-time Fed Cup semifinalists Serbia on the indoor clay of the Sports Palace Megasport. On singles duty for Russia will be Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Svetlana Kuznetsova, with Maria Kirilenko and Elena Vesnina the doubles team.
"I have a lot of motivation to win points for my team," Pavlyuchenkova said. "I'm going to do the best I can when I get out there. It's a different atmosphere out there in Fed Cup - a lot of emotions and you see your team supporting you. I hope our home crowd will come out and be loud tomorrow - that will help us.
"The atmosphere is amazing," Kuznetsova said. "The crowd always gives us the best support and I take so much energy from them. I have so many memories."
"Jelena and I grew up on clay, so it's definitely one of our favorite surfaces," Ivanovic said. "Obviously indoor makes a little bit of a difference but we've had some time to prepare, and we're very excited the tie is taking place on clay."
"I've been training for the last week or so in Moscow, training really hard," Jankovic said. "I feel ready to play and move forward. Playing Russia is going to be a difficult tie for us, a big challenge, and it's our first time to be in the semifinals - but we have a strong team and our goal is to reach the final."
Russia leads the all-time team head-to-head against Serbia, 3-0.
On the indoor hardcourts of the CZE Arena in Ostrava, defending Fed Cup champions the Czech Republic will take on three-time Fed Cup champions Italy in the other semifinal. The Czechs are led by Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova, with Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka the doubles team. Kvitova has gone 23-0 indoors since the start of the 2011 season.
"My father booked a lot of tickets, so I'm looking forward to seeing some friends and all the fans," said Kvitova, who lives about half an hour away. "It's very nice to play close to home. Me and the whole team have a lot of support here!"
"My results haven't been great so far this year, but I'm working hard and I think it's a good possibility I'll start playing much better in the clay court season," Schiavone said. "I think I can find a good feeling on clay and in the tournaments coming up. I'm really just trying to look forward and stay positive."
Italy leads the all-time team head-to-head against the Czechs, 4-3.
In World Group play-off ties, the USA takes on Ukraine (the American team includes WTA legends Serena Williams and Liezel Huber); Japan faces Belgium; Slovakia faces Spain (Slovakia is led by Top 20 stars Dominika Cibulkova and Daniela Hantuchova); and in a very stacked tie, Germany faces Australia (Germany has Top 20 stars Andrea Petkovic, Angelique Kerber and Julia Goerges, while the Aussies have World No.5 Sam Stosur).
World Group II play-off ties see France face Slovenia, Switzerland take on Belarus, Sweden take on Great Britain and Argentina square off with China.