Petra Kvitova to open Czech Republic challenge against Russia in Fed Cup final
Last Updated: 13/11/15 5:04pm
Petra Kvitova will take on Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the opening singles match of the Fed Cup final between the Czech Republic and Russia in Prague on Saturday.
World No 6 Kvitova, who has won 20 of her 22 singles matches in the team competition since 2011, is bidding to lead the Czech Republic to a fourth title in five years following their victories in 2011, 2012 and 2014.
The 26-year-old has a 6-2 record against Pavlyuchenkova, who will be hoping to set Russia on their way to their first Fed Cup success since 2008.
Kvitova told fedcup.com: "Anastasia played great indoors at the end of the season, she has had great results. She is serving well, playing aggressively, so I guess that's what I have to do as well."
World No 4 Maria Sharapova, who is playing in her first Fed Cup final, will be up against Karolina Pliskova in the second singles on the indoor hard court at the O2 Arena.
Pliskova, whose only previous Fed Cup singles experience came earlier this year when she won twice against Canada in Quebec City, has been preferred to Lucie Safarova, who has a 9-1 singles record on home soil.
World No 11 Pliskova has been rewarded for her fine form this year which has seen her reach six finals.
She said: "I have never played Maria, so that will be something new. And I have never played in front of the home crowd [in Fed Cup], so it's going to be a new day for me. I am just going to try and enjoy it."
Sharapova said: "I think I am excited and nervous at the same time. It's an incredible opportunity for me and my team-mates to play in a final. It's very rare for me to experience something for the first time after being on tour for so many years."
In Sunday's reverse singles, Kvitova will first play Sharapova, then Pliskova will take on Pavlyuchenkova, while Safarova and Barbora Strycova will tackle Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina in the doubles.
For the first time in Fed Cup history, the final will feature an all-female officiating team in the shape of referee Clare Wood, chair umpires Alison Hughes and Louise Azemar-Engzell and review official Marijana Veljovic.
Wood, who is the assistant referee at Wimbledon, and Serbia's Veljovic will be officiating in a Fed Cup final for the first time.
Hughes is the most experienced of the quartet as it will be the Briton's 12th final, while Sweden's Azemar-Engzell will chair her second final.