Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland will make her singles debut in Fed Cup duty when she faces Czech Republic's Fed Cup saviour of 2016, Karolina Pliskova, who is 3-0 while representing her nation in Fed Cup this year. Golubic's 2016 season was highlighted by an ITF title in Hong Kong earlier in January. She successfully qualified for the Australian Open and Katowice Open as well. She was nominated for the opening round against Germany but did not play. This will now be a chance for the 23-year-old who hails from Zurich to make a good show of herself in front of her home crowd.
Pliskova's 2016 has been rather up and down. Highlights include a semifinal run in Indian Wells and reaching the quarterfinals in Sydney, but she did lose her opening matches in Dubai, Doha and Miami. Another commendable achievement by the Czech this year occured in the opening round tie agaisnt Romania, where she won both her singles rubbers and the decisive doubles rubber alongside Barbora Strycova to advance to this stage. They partnered together in last year's final to beat Russia as well. Despite having never played doubles together before, both players easily adapted to one another's game and played as if they were regular partners.
This will be their first career meeting.
Having faced the withdrawal of teammate Belinda Bencic earlier in the week, it could result in a fall in confidence for the Swiss team and therefore every win in this tie counts. While there's nothing much to be taken out of Golubic's game given she has spent most of her career in the ITF circuit, expect the Swiss to enter the match full of expectations on her shoulders but at the same time with a determination to make her country proud. Along with home support, you never know with an unknown identity in Golubic who will be like playing her first singles rubber whether or not she will exceed expectations and grab the win or collapse.
Pliskova on the other hand, being the more experienced and accomplished player, must bring out her A-game and not give her opponent any chance to step in. The serve, her biggest weapon, should be used to her advantage and she must keep her error count low. But having won all her prior rubbers in 2016, there is no reason why the Czech should falter in this match-up. A routine win does not seem far-fetched and the Czech should steamroll to a fourth consecutive Fed Cup win of 2016.
Prediction: Karolina Pliskova in straight sets