France has quite an uphill task when they host nine-time Fed Cup champions the Czech Republic in Strasbourg on the 12th and 13th of November. The most prolific team in Fed Cup history are themselves bidding to clinch the crown for the third year in a row. The tie which will be played on the indoor hard court could favor the Czechs but they have to battle against a passionate French crowd.
Czech Republic team: Solid quartet
The Czech Republic has fielded their best team in the quest to defend their title. Petra Kvitova returns to the squad and is in the form of her life in recent times. She is joined by Karolina Pliskova, the top ranked Czech, who has played in every tie this year and was part of the greatest eight to do battle at the year-end WTA Finals.
They are joined by Barbora Strycova who has had quite a stellar season in both the singles and doubles and is also competing in the WTA Elite Trophy together with Kvitova. Lucie Hradecka, mostly known for her prowess in doubles, rounds up the very strong Czech team. Hradecka partnered Pliskova claiming the decisive doubles rubber in their tough semifinal win over Switzerland.
Record in Fed Cup wise, Kvitova is an impressive 26-10 but lost the last two singles rubber she played in this year. Pliskova herself who is playing in just her fourth tie has recorded more wins than losses at 9-2. Strycova has a winning record as well with 16-9 while Hradecka is 7-5. Their combined experience will give them the edge in this tie.
France team: The same quartet return
The same team that represented and defeated Netherlands in the semifinal is back again to challenge for the title. Captain Amélie Mauresmo has kept her faith in the dynamic French duo of Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic who have been pivotal in both the quarterfinal and semifinal tie helping to bring France to their first final in 11 years. The pair combined well and won the decisive doubles rubber against Netherlands for their most important win thus far.
Mladenovic has not lost a doubles rubber in the Fed Cup with a record of 9-0. In singles, she is 3-4 and will be hoping her recent decent results would lend her hand in that aspect.
Garcia likewise is 5-0 in doubles and has scored slightly better in singles rubbers with a 6-4. The 23rd ranked Frenchwoman is also currently competing in the WTA Elite Trophy and a strong run there would be great for her and France’s chances.
The Czechs have more experience and strength in their team, and having won it the past couple of years, they are certainly better equipped to handle the pressure and know what it takes to win. As for the French squad, their key players are still relatively new and the moment itself could prove overwhelming. Despite their head-to-head tied at 3-3, the last time the two countries met, in the 2015 semifinals, it was a rather dominant victory for the Czechs. The French may need to call upon their fifth member, their energetic crowd to rally their players. The crowd was pivotal in their last tie and could rattle the Czechs who won the last two Fed Cup finals on home soil. Rankings don’t always matter in the Fed Cup but the Czechs have solid singles players and that could be enough to win the tie for them.