Andrea Hlavackova has been among the world's leading doubles players for the past few years, but her role in the Czech Republic's all-conquering Fed Cup team has often been a peripheral one. That all changed on Monday, however, when Hlavackova was finally presented with her opportunity to shine.
After Lucie Safarova leveled the rain-interrupted tie with Spain at 2-2, Hlavackova and her long-time friend Barbora Zahlavova Strycova were charged with steering the Czechs into the semifinals. And they did not disappoint, displaying composure and a steely determination to dash the hopes of Carla Suárez Navarro and Sílvia Soler-Espinosa and the sparse but vocal Spanish crowd.
Remarkably, this was the Czechs' first live doubles rubber since 2011, and as a result much of Hlavackova's Fed Cup career had been spent cheering Petra Kvitova and company on from the sidelines.
"'I'm not hoping to play, but if needed I'm always ready," Hlavackova said when asked over the weekend about her lack of action in her national colors. "I've actually never played the deciding doubles. It's tough after cheering for one-and-a-half days on the bench to then go and play."
Hlavackova's three previous Fed Cup outings had all came in dead rubbers and she was understandably delighted with her performance in such a make-or-break clash.
"It was a really tough feeling before the match because I was getting nervous and worried we might lose. But in the end I was so happy to finally get the chance to score a point that counts," she said.
Despite her past successes, which include two majors and an Olympic silver medal alongside former partner Lucie Hradecka, Hlavackova has always been keen to distance herself from the label of doubles specialist.
Last year she reached her maiden singles final in Bad Gastein and after making a few technical changes during an intensive pre-season training block in Florida, she is confident that more solo success will follow.
"It was tough, but fortunately Roman Cech, my fitness coach, came to support me in Florida," Hlavackova said of her pre-season preparation. "We were working hard for three weeks in three-phase conditioning training.
"We were also solving some technical things which are not possible to change during the season, and I must admit that I'm feeling pretty good now!"
Judging by her early season results, the work is already paying dividends - in Pattaya City she reached her second WTA semifinal, losing a topsy-turvy three-setter with eventual champion Ekaterina Makarova.
"I was really happy with my serve in Thailand and how I imposed my style of game on my opponent. I´m really happy that all the changes are starting to show on the court, and I think this is because of all the physical and psychical preparation I did at the end of last year."