Czechs aiming for fourth Fed Cup title in five years in front of home fans

Petra Kvitová, photo: CTK

The Czech Republic’s women’s tennis team are looking to end the season on a high in Prague this weekend when Petra Kvitová and Co. hope to lift their fourth Fed Cup title in five years. Meanwhile the presence of superstar Maria Sharapova has increased interest in their opponents, Russia.

Petra Kvitová,  photo: CTK
The Czech women’s tennis team have enjoyed unrivalled success in recent years, with Petra Kvitová and Co. lifting the Fed Cup title in three out of the last four years. This weekend they are hoping to make it four out of five.

The defending champions are currently preparing to take on Russia in the final and go into the tie as favourites.

The venue has proven lucky for the Czechs in the past – they beat Serbia at Prague’s O2 Arena in 2012 and Germany there last year.

Lucie Šafářová was part of the team that lifted the Fed Cup twice at the O2. Speaking there, the 28-year-old told Czech Television she had fond memories of the place.

Lucie Šafářová,  photo: CTK
“When I enter I have nothing but positive, beautiful feelings. What comes to mind are the moments after we lifted the title. Especially the win over Serbia – I always remember that when I come here. What makes this place special is the home environment, the home fans when they really fill the place. You feel the support here – and that really drives you forward.”

Last November Karolína Plíšková was the Czech Republic’s first substitute. However, she has come a long way since then, establishing herself this season as a regular member of the four-member team and reaching no fewer than five WTA finals.

Karolína Plíšková,  photo: CTK
Plíšková, who made her first appearance in the competition against Canada in February, says the Fed Cup is a whole other ball game.

“It’s completely different than what we’re used to. All year you play for yourself but here you play for the Czech Republic and the whole team. We’re usually alone but with the Fed Cup we can be with the team for three or four weeks of the year. I really enjoy it. I’ve only played in Canada so we’ll see what happens. It’d be a bit harder in front of the home crowd, but I’m sure I could handle it.”

Opponents Russia will be hoping to avenge the 2011 final, when the Czech Republic beat them on their own turf in Moscow. The two teams haven’t met in the competition since.

Maria Sharapova,  photo: CTK
Fans and photographers are in for a treat as Maria Sharapova is making a rare appearance for the Russian team. The megastar has positive win records against both Kvitová and Šafářová but has lost to both in the course of 2015.