Fed Cup Semifinal Preview: Switzerland - Czech Republic

Top seeds and defending champions Czech Republic will go up against Switzerland in their Fed Cup semifinal tie. The winner will face either France or the Netherlands in the final. Tennis history has seen the Czech team lift the Fed Cup four times in the last five years.

Field and statistics

Swiss team nominations. Photo credit : Fed Cup Twitter.
Swiss team nominations. Photo credit: Fed Cup.

Switzerland's list of nominees was announced Wednesday. Captain Heinz Guenthardt spearheads the team which features the likes of young gun Belinda Bencic, doubles co-world number one Martina Hingis, Timea Bacsinszky and Viktorija Golubic. Below are each player's Fed Cup statistics:

Credit: Fed Cup.
Player Win-loss record (%) Ties played
Belinda Bencic 9-3 (75%) 6
Timea Bacsinszky 23-18 (56%) 20
Viktorija Golubic 2-1 (67%) 3
Martina Hingis  27-6 (82%) 16
Czech team nominations. Photo credit : Fed Cup Twitter.
Czech team nominations. Photo credit: Fed Cup.

The Czech team released its field of nominees for the tie on the same day as well. They will be led by captain, Petr Pala who is entering his ninth year as captain. Players fielded include 18th-ranked Karolina Pliskova, doubles specialists Barbora Strycova and Lucie Hradecka along with Denisa Allertova, the youngest in the team. Each player's Fed Cup statistics are as below:

Credit: Fed Cup.
Player Win-loss record (%) Ties played
Karolina Pliskova 7-1 (88%) 3
Barbora Strycova 15-8 (65%) 14
Denisa Allertova 1-0 (100%) 1
Lucie Hradecka 6-5 (55%) 8

Lead-up

The Swiss team celebrating their win over Germany in the opening round February. Photo credit : Dennis Grombkowski / Getty Images.
The Swiss team celebrating their win over Germany in the opening round February. Photo credit: Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images.

The Swiss team are back in the World Group for the first time since 2004. In their opening round tie, they were away at Leipzig, Germany where they triumphed 3-2 after emerging victorious in the doubles decider. They are the underdogs in this upcoming tie and would want to make Switzerland proud in front of their home crowd when they go up against the defending champions. 

The Czechs are playing their second straight tie away from home. Going up against Romania in the first round, they survived an inspired squad and home crowd to prevail in the doubles decider to win the tie with a similar score line 3-2. Clearly the favourites, they would want to do well and have their sights on a fifth Fed Cup title in six years.

Head-to-head

The Czech team celebrating their win after Karolina Pliskova defeated Simona Halep in the fourth rubber during the tie against Romania. Photo credit : Daniel Mihailescu / Getty Images.
The Czech team celebrates after Pliskova's win over Halep during the opening round tie against Romania earlier this year. Photo credit: Daniel Mihailescu/Getty Images.

The Czech Republic leads Switzerland 5-1 in their head-to-head. In their last meeting, which occured in 2000, the Czechs won their round robin tie with a score line of 2-1 en route to the semifinals where they lost to Spain

Analysis

Switzerland enters the tie with an injury cloud over Bencic. She recently retired against Kristyna Pliskova in her opening match at the Miami Open after five games with a lower back injury. Things did not go better for the Swiss number one in Charleston when she was dumped out of the tournament in her opening match with a thumping 6-1, 6-1 loss to Russian qualifier Elena Vesnina. Bacsinszky, who had a slow start to 2016, looks to have finally steadied the ship when she sailed all the way to the semifinals at the Miami Open. 

The Czechs, on the other hand, have fewer worries since their players are free of injuries. Most of them seem to be in good form as well with Pliskova reaching the last eight in Sydney and the last four in Indian Wells while Strycova already has one final runner-up finish in Dubai and two further last 16 showings at the Australian Open and Indian Wells.

The rubbers have yet to be decided for this tie but it looks like the Czechs are in good shape to secure another final berth. The Swiss contingent should be able to secure at least one rubber. Also, expect them to put up a good challenge and play their hearts out in front of the home fans. 

Prediction: Czech Republic wins 3-2

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