Fed Cup semifinal preview: United States vs Czech Republic

The United States will play host in their Fed Cup semifinal tie which is due to take place on clay at the Saddlebrook Resort in the city of Tampa, the southern state of Florida, where they go up against Czech Republic, who are the three-time defending champions.

Fed Cup semifinal preview: United States vs Czech Republic
The Czech team celebrating their triump in last year's Fed Cup final against France. Photo credit: Jean Catuffe/Getty Images.

The top-ranked and three-time defending champions Czech Republic will go head-to-head against the United States in the top half semifinal tie of this year’s edition of the Fed Cup. The winner of the clash will face either Switzerland or Belarus in the championship round.

Field and statistics

American team nominations. Photo credit: Fed Cup.
American team nominations. Photo credit: Fed Cup.

The United States’ announcement of its nominees for the tie came last Wednesday. With Kathy Rinaldi as captain, the team features top 20-ranked CoCo Vandeweghe and top-ranked doubles player Bethanie Mattek Sands, the latter being the most experienced of the team. Shelby Rogers and Lauren Davis complete the squad. Below are each player’s Fed Cup statistics:

Credit: Fed Cup.
Player Win-loss record (%) Ties played
CoCo Vandeweghe 6-3 (67%) 5
Lauren Davis 1-1 (50%) 2
Shelby Rogers 1-0 (100%) 1
Bethanie Mattek-Sands 8-6 (57%) 8
Czech team nominations. Photo credit: Fed Cup.
Czech team nominations. Photo credit: Fed Cup.

Defending champions Czech Republic released its player field on the same day as well. Captained by Petr Pala, the team wholly consists of 1990-born players. Katerina Siniakova and Denisa Allertova, each with one Fed Cup match under their belt, are among those in team which also includes fresh faces, Kristyna Pliskova and 18-year-old Marketa Vondrousova, the youngest in the team. Each player’s Fed Cup statistics are as below:

Credit: Fed Cup.
Player Win-loss record (%) Ties played
Katerina Siniakova 0-1 (0%) 1
Kristyna Pliskova 0-0 (0%) 0
Denisa Allertova 1-0 (100%) 1
Marketa Vondrousova 0-0 (0%) 0

Lead-up

The American team congratulates Vandeweghe after her win over Stosur in the World Group Play-offs tie against Australia last year. Photo credit: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images.
The American team congratulates Vandeweghe after her win over Stosur in the World Group Play-offs tie against Australia last year. Photo credit: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images.

This year marked the return of the United States to the World Group for the first time since 2011. In the opening round at home in Maui, where they went up against Germany, they scored a perfect streak to see off their opponents with the score 4-0. With just one win away from their first final since 2010 and being the more experienced team overall, they will look to upset their opponents and deny them their spot in their seventh consecutive final.

The Czech Republic continued their dominance in Fed Cup competition by advancing to their ninth straight semifinal. Their road to the last four was not as straightforward as the Americans’ as they suffered a loss in the opening rubber of their tie against Spain but went on to win the next three to secure their semifinal berth. The Spaniards then clinched the victory in the concluding doubles match and thus, the finalised scoreline stood at 3-2.

Head-to-head

Allertova (left) and Siniakova (right) lead an unexperienced Czech contingent. Photo credits: Zhong Zhi/Getty Images.
Allertova (left) and Siniakova (right) lead an unexperienced Czech contingent. Photo credits: Zhong Zhi/Getty Images.

Both nations have met a total 11 times before, the United States holding a commanding 9-2 lead. Their last meeting occurred all the way back in 2009, at this very stage of the competition. This upcoming semifinal tie would be just their third clash this century and also their first on clay since their encounter in the opening round of the World Group in 1994 which the Americans won. 

Analysis

Experience plays a material role in this clash and there is no doubt the odds seem to be leaning towards the more seasoned Americans unlike the defending champions. Ironically, the Czech team’s new faces, namely the big-serving Pliskova and rising Vondrousova seem to be the more on-form players as opposed to Siniakova, who has only won back-to-back matches twice so far in 2017, and Allertova, who is riding a three-match losing streak. More notably, the Czechs only have a combined two Fed Cup matches played against their opponent’s 26.

With the tie set to take place on the dirt, the tables turn even more towards the Americans’ side. Their last loss to the Czechs on clay came in the 1980 World Group semifinals but since then they have never surrendered a single match to their European counterparts on the surface. Moreover, Czech Republic’s last Fed Cup venture on clay came in World Group semifinals in 2013, where they were beaten by eventual champions Italy.

The rubbers have yet to be determined for this upcoming tie. However, as a whole, the United States seem to have all the answers in getting past what could be a young but unpredictable Czech team. The Americans should see off the defending champions without much problems and secure a berth in their first final since the turn of the decade.

Prediction: United States wins 3-0