A long-awaited off-season is on hold for an elite squad from the Czech Republic, who fly to France in the hopes of winning a fifth Fed Cup title in six years. Karolina Pliskova and Petra Kvitova lead the team through what will be one last ride following a full fall schedule in Asia.
"It's the last two matches of the year. There is no other choice," Pliskova said after playing her last round-robin match at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global. "I'll just get ready. There is one week between, so I'll just rest a little bit and forget about tennis for few days.
"Then back to the work for that last week of tennis this season."
It was even less of a break for Kvitova, who captured her second title of the season at the Huajin Securities WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai.
"I don't think I'm that tired," she told WTA Insider in the latest edition of Champions Corner. "I just feel my entire body is sore, so I'll need to take a few days off to get ready for the Fed Cup tie. I'm really looking forward, but it's a little bit difficult. I'm a little bit tired, but winning always helps me recover faster.
"I'll be flying to Prague, and then taking a car to go to Strasbourg, so that'll be fun. I'm looking forward to seeing the team. We have a great team, so I can't wait to be with them over there. It'll be the last week of the season, so it's great to have it then, as well."
Kvitova was in Zhuhai alongside countrywoman Barbora Strycova, and both discussed that special bond the team has forged throughout the week.
"All the Czech players, we know how to be teammates in the week where there is Fed Cup," Strycova said. "Three weeks a year we are so close together. I can't describe it because it's like a routine for us that we do everything together in those weeks."
Coached by Petr Pala, the Czechs have won 15 of 16 ties dating back to 2011, when the team won their country's first Fed Cup trophy since 1988.
"I'm looking forward to the final," Kvitova said. "I love playing Fed Cup and playing for my country. The final is always special; we're playing away, which isn't great for us, since France will have the home crowd advantage. We know how to play, and that the fans will support them. It'll be about us, and whichever team is better prepared will win.
"I think we're only small favorites to win the tie; they have a great doubles team, and even the singles players, Kiki and Caro, are playing well. It'll be a difficult tie, but we do have a more experienced team, from all the finals we've played. The motivation is always there."
The teams have faced off just twice in the last ten years, with the Czechs winning the most recent encounter in 2015. Caroline Garcia leads a French contingent captained by former World No.1 Amélie Mauresmo, and is well aware of just how formidable the Czechs can be in this format, joking that the country could easily field two teams based on its strong roster.
"Caro is funny! I never really thought like that," Kvitova said with a smile, before breaking down their secret to success.
"I think we're not only good players, but also good people. We're never fighting with each other; we act as a team, and I think that's very important. None of us make trouble, and we all work well together. If one of us needs to schedule a massage, we talk all talk and decide who gets to go first; it's the same with practice schedules.
"Communication is very important for a team. We also have great people around us; they're all boys, so there's always a lot of fun throughout the week. Our stringer is DJ, and they're all doing what they can to keep things relaex. The practices are very easy and never too stressful.
"Everything is working when you're playing well, and everything is easier than when you're not. We're on a good way right now and I hope we continue like that."
When that off-season finally does come, Kvitova plans to spend a vacation with none other than teammate Lucie Hradecka, who will likely be on hand for a potentially decisive doubles rubber against France.
All photos courtesy of Getty Images.