Friday's draw contained few surprises, pairing Czech No.1 Karolina Pliskova and French No.2 Kristina Mladenovic in the first rubber, with Petra Kvitova and Caroline Garcia facing off in the second.
WTA Staff

STRASBOURG, France - World No.6 Karolina Pliskova will open the Czech Republic's Fed Cup defense against Kristina Mladenovic on Saturday afternoon.

The draw, held at Maison de la Region and carried out by Paralympic wheelchair doubles champion Nicolas Peifer, contained few surprises, pairing Czech No.1 Pliskova and French No.2 Mladenovic in the first rubber, with Petra Kvitova and Caroline Garcia facing off in the second.

The Czechs have dominated the Fed Cup in recent years, lifting the trophy in four of the past five years. Is it a record that compares favorably with many of the other dominant sides in the competition's history. Indeed, should Pliskova and Kvitova spearhead them to victory over a gifted French side, then they will cement their place alongside the great Australian and United States teams of years gone by.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the Australians reigned supreme, Margaret Court and company winning seven of the first 12 titles. This was followed by the golden age of American tennis, Chris Evert and Billie Jean King integral to a group that won the cup on seven consecutive occasions.

Fast forward to the 21st century and Czech captain Petr Pala has forged another dynasty, founded on tremendous team spirit and no little talent. And even away from the fortresses of Prague and Ostrava, they are a formidable proposition.

Pliskova has enjoyed the best season of her career, winning a couple of titles and reaching the US Open final to cement a place in the Top 10. Despite being overtaken in the rankings by Pliskova, two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova remains an integral cog, arriving in Strasbourg fresh from dominant victories at the big Asian events in Wuhan and Zhuhai. She will be further buoyed by her record against Garcia, whom she has beaten in two of their three meetings.

The Czechs are not the only ones playing for a piece of history. French captain Amélie Mauresmo is aiming to follow in the footsteps of Court, King and Evert by winning the Fed Cup as both player and captain, and certainly has the players to spring an upset.

Garcia has enjoyed a quietly impressive year on tour, titles in Strasbourg and Mallorca helping her close in on the Top 20. Alongside Mladenovic she enjoyed an even more impressive doubles campaign, highlighted by a memorable victory on home soil at Roland Garros, forging an understanding that could prove decisive should the tie reach the decisive doubles rubber on Sunday.

Pliskova and Garcia, who have split their two career encounters, will step out in front of an expected capacity crowd at the 6,077-seat Rhénus Sport indoor arena at 2pm.