STRASBOURG, France - For the Czech Republic's top players, reuniting for Fed Cup finals has almost become an end-of-the-season tradition. The two-time defending champions are back in action this weekend in Strasbourg, where they're seeking their fifth title in six years.
Karolina Pliskova, Petra Kvitova, Barbora Strycova and Lucie Hradecka will take on the underdogs France in the Fed Cup final - here's everything you need to know about the team and the tie, right here on wtatennis.com!
Tie: Fed Cup Final, France vs Czech Republic
Dates: Nov 12 & Nov 13, 2016
Venue: Rhenus Sport - Strasbourg, France (indoor hardcourts)
Czech Captain: Petr Pala
- The Czech Republic's last three ties have been decided in the final doubles rubber
- All of the ties in their 2016 campaign have been away, including the final
Meet the team:
The new Czech No.1 Pliskova earned her career-high ranking of No.5 after the best season of her career saw her lift two titles, including the Premier-level Western & Southern Open - defeating Angelique Kerber in the final - and reach the US Open final, defeating Serena Williams in the semifinals.
After such a banner season, Pliskova is looking to continue her rise with her second Fed Cup crown. Dangerous both in singles and in doubles with partners Barbora Strycova or Lucie Hradecka, the versatile 24-year-old is a valuable asset for the Czech team.
Fed Cup debut: 2015
Ties played: 4
Fed Cup win-loss record: 9-2 (singles 6-2, doubles 3-0)
Fed Cup indoor record: 9-2
Fresh from her win at the Huajin Securities WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai, a rejuvenated Kvitova dons the white, blue and red Czech national colors with a renewed sense of purpose. She always shines while playing for her country, and this year she was able to use her impressive run to the Olympic Bronze medal as a catalyst to put behind her a disappointing start to the season.
Though her last appearance for the Czech Republic ended in two disappointing defeats, suffering a straight-sets loss against Monica Niculescu and a three-set heartbreaker to Simona Halep in the World Group quarterfinal against Romania, Kvitova has been a crucial component to the team for years, competing in all five of their most recent finals.
Kvitova said: "I think the tennis in Czech Republic has a huge [tennis] history. When Navratilova played, all of them, we [have] always kind of been strong for tennis, but the women's side [is] a little bit stronger right now, and that's why we [are] playing final again probably.
"Of course we should be confident to get the title for us again. I think we have a great team, and we're going to do everything what we can. We always love playing. It will be great week for sure, and the weekend will be more special."
Fed Cup debut: 2007
Ties played: 19
Fed Cup win-loss record: 26-10 (singles 26-9, doubles 0-1)
Fed Cup indoor record: 24-6
The Czech No.3 Strycova sits at No.20 on the WTA rankings after reaching two finals this year, at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and the Aegon Classic Birmingham. She's added three doubles titles to her impressive haul, too, including a win at Birmingham with her countrywoman Pliskova.
As a result, Strycova is one of the Czechs' go-to doubles players, though she's also been showing off more of her singles game lately. She defeated Timea Bacsinszky in straight sets in the World Group semifinal against Switzerland before falling to Viktorija Golubic in three sets.
Strycova said: "All the Czech players, we know how to be teammates in the week where is Fed Cup. Tennis is [an] individual sport, so we know how to separate it. Most of the time of the year you play for yourself.
"But three weeks in a year we are so close together and we are like really - I can't describe it, because it's like a routine for us that we are really doing everything together in the week where we play Fed Cup."
Fed Cup debut: 2002
Ties played: 15
Fed Cup win-loss record: 16-9 (singles 7-6, doubles 9-3)
Fed Cup indoor record: 5-5
As one half of the "Silent Hs" along with partner Andrea Hlavackova, Hradecka's season in doubles has been a success. The pair started the year with an appearance in the Australian Open final, continued on to reach the quarterfinals or better at Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Rome, then capped it off by lifting two titles, the Coupe Banque Nationale and Kremlin Cup as well as competing at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.
As the Czech Republic's longtime doubles specialist, Hradecka's role could prove even more crucial this weekend - the team's last three ties have been decided in the final doubles rubber.
Fed Cup debut: 2010
Ties played: 12
Fed Cup win-loss record: 7-5 (singles 1-3, doubles 6-2)
Fed Cup indoor record: 6-1
- Photos courtesy of Getty Images