Kvitova set to open Czech-Germany Fed Cup final against Petkovic
Petra Kvitova and Andrea Petkovic are set to face off to open this weekend's Fed Cup final between the Czech Republic and Germany in Prague on Saturday. The Czech Republic, led by No. 4 Kvitova and No. 17 Lucie Safarova, is looking to become the second most successful Fed Cup nation and is seeking to win its third title in the last four years. The German squad, led by No. 10 Angelique Kerber and No. 14 Petkovic, are trying to bring the trophy back to Germany for the first time in 22 years.
The teams met up on Friday to complete the draw for the two-day final, which is comprised of two singles matches on Saturday and two singles matches and a doubles match (if needed) on Sunday. Both captains made interesting personnel decisions. Czech captain Peter Pala left off No. 24 Karolina Pliskova, who won two titles this fall, in favor of doubles specialist Andrea Hlavackova, while German captain Barbara Rittner chose to nominate No. 27 Sabine Lisicki ahead of doubles specialist Anna-Lena Groenefeld.
Saturday (7am ET)
- Kvitova vs. Petkovic (Petkovic leads H2H 4-3)
- Safarova vs. Kerber (Kerber leads the H2H 1-0)
Sunday (7am ET)
- Kvitova vs. Kerber (Kvitova leads H2H 3-2)
- Safarova vs. Petkovic (Petkovic leads H2H 4-2)
- Hlavackova/Hradecka vs. Goerges/Lisicki
Despite the positive head-to-head records, the German team goes into the final as the underdog. The Czechs have once again laid down a fast indoor hard court at the O2 Arena in Prague, a surface that undoubtedly favors Kvitova. As for Safarova, the quick indoor conditions have brought out the best in her for Fed Cup. She hasn't lost a Fed Cup singles match at home since 2010. The opening rubber between Kvitova-Petkovic will be key. Should Kvitova roll through that match and show the dominant form she usually unleashes for Fed Cup, this could be a quick whitewash win for the Czechs.
“We are not thinking about the German team,” Kvitova said on Wednesday. “We know they are very strong and they can play really great tennis, but we are focusing on ourselves and that’s what I think is the key [to] the weekend. We have a great team, we always know we have it inside of ourselves and we will show everything that we can in the moment.”
As for the Germans, Rittner -- who could become just the fourth player to win Fed Cup as both a player and captain -- is keeping her options open by nominating Lisicki onto the team. Former ATP pro Nicolas Kiefer publicly questioned the move, concerned that it would disrupt the fantastic team chemistry already in place with the team of Kerber, Petkovic, Goerges and Anna-Lena Groenefeld. Lisicki has downplayed any concerns and her nomination does give Rittner more options should either Petkovic or Kerber flop on Day 1. Petkovic had a poor fall season but rebounded last week by winning the Tournament of Champions in Sofia. Kerber had a very quiet second half of the season and hasn't played since the China Open. It's difficult to know what state either player will be in when the competition begins.
"It was a great confidence boost for me,” Petkovic said of her Sofia win. “Obviously I had a couple of tough weeks and it was really tough to get out of there but sometimes when you are standing with your back against a wall you just find energy in yourself that you didn’t believe you would have. It just gave me a totally different spirit to come here. I came here with a lot of positive emotions and momentum. I am just really excited and keen to get out there and finally play.”
Should the two teams split the singles matches, the Czechs would have the advantage in the decisive doubles. Hlavackova and Hradecka have won two Slams together as well as an Olympic silver medal at the London Olympics. On the other side of the net, Goerges spent much of the season playing doubles with Groenefeld and has played with Lisicki just once in 2012 at Indian Wells.
“Of course the pressure is there but I think [it’s there] for the Czechs also,” Kerber said. “They are playing at home and the crowd is of course cheering more [for] the Czech team. But I think a lot of fans are coming from Germany to support us and that means a lot to all of us, but of course we will try to give our best and try to win and take the trophy with us to Germany.”
Here's Petkovic promising some "craziness" should the Germans win: