FAVOURITES USA WELL AWARE OF CZECH THREAT
USA’s chances of reaching a first Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Final in seven years appear strong, but Kathy Rinaldi’s team insist they won’t underestimate the challenge that lies ahead in their semifinal against Czech Republic this weekend.
The Czechs, Fed Cup champions in five of the last six years, have arrived at the Saddlebrook Resort in Tampa, Florida with none of the stars that have seen them dominate the competition over the last six years.
Instead of the likes of Petra Kvitova, Lucie Safarova, Barbora Strycova and Karolina Pliskova, who have proved virtually unbeatable in Fed Cup, a new future has seemingly dawned for Petr Pala’s team. Katerina Siniakova, Kristyna Pliskova, Denisa Allertova and Marketa Vondrousova, this time, will fly the Czech flag.
Though inexperienced in the international team competition, the latest Czech side is young, hungry and more than capable – as 17-year-old Vondrousova proved by winning her first WTA title – in just her second Tour event – as a qualifier in Biel last weekend. Their No. 1 player, world No. 38 Siniakova, is also on the rise.
Rinaldi is right to be wary.
“We're going into this not underestimating anybody,” admitted the USA captain on Wednesday. “They, like us, are very strong. There’s a lot of depth in their women's game in singles and in doubles. Recently some of those girls have had a lot of success. We're just expecting them to come out and be playing their best.”