Ivanovic & Safarova Open Up Fed Cup Final
Published November 02, 2012 01:11
PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Such is the anticipation in the Czech Republic ahead of this weekend's Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Final that it took just six hours to sell out both days at Prague's 13,000-capacity O2 Arena.
Having been starved of success in tennis' premier team competition for over two decades, last year, a Petra Kvitova-inspired Czech team defeated Russia in Moscow to finally lift the trophy again. This time, on home soil, and with arguably an even stronger team, they face first-time finalists Serbia.
But, while Serbia may lack their opponent's Fed Cup pedigree, they are certainly not lacking in experience. In Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic, the Serbian team is spearheaded by two former World No.1s, who have played a combined total of 68 Fed Cup matches.
Both were instrumental in securing Serbia's place in Prague, winning three out of the four singles rubbers to upset Russia in the semifinals, and more heroics will be required if they are to repeat the trick in Prague.
Ivanovic will get the tie underway on Saturday afternoon, taking on the mercurial Lucie Safarova. Just five ranking spots separate the players and Safarova is expecting a tight encounter.
"Ana is a great player, and Jelena as well, so both of the matches will be really tough, but that's how it should be as this is the finals so I will try my best and try to get the two points," Safarova said at Friday's draw ceremony at Prague's City Hall.
The most recent meeting between the two came earlier this year in Sydney, where Safarova triumphed in straight sets - a result which still rankles the Serb.
"It's going to be a tough match - I had a tough loss against her in Sydney so hopefully I can play better and get revenge," Ivanovic said. "In this final tie every point is going to be important so I'm going to try my best every point."
The opening day's second match pits Jankovic against Kvitova. Despite only returning to full training on Thursday after pulling out of the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships - Istanbul 2012 with a viral illness, Kvitova believes she will be ready for Jankovic.
"I am feeling fine, I believe tomorrow everything will be as it should be," Kvitova said at the draw. "After not having trained for quite a few days, it looked quite good and I am satisfied with how I played yesterday.
"The cold is limiting me a little, I cannot breathe as much as I could, but hopefully this is a small thing. Physically there will be a deficit, given I had to take antibiotics, but I believe I can make it."
Sunday will see the first two singles rubbers reversed, before a fifth and potentially decisive doubles match.