Petra Kvitova will return to an indoor court--a surface on which she excels--this weekend for the Czech Republic's Fed Cup World Group semifinal against Italy. The Czech Republic is 3-4 against Italy in Fed Cup; however, Italy has won the last four time the two teams have met. In 2010, in fact, Italy beat the Czech Republic 5-0 in the semifinals.
Kvitova is currently on a 27-0 indoor match streak.
The upcoming semifinal will be played at the CEZ Arena in Ostrava. In addition to Kvitova, Czech team members include recent Charleston finalist Lucie Safarova, Lucie Hradecka and Andrea Hvlavackova. What is best known simply as "the Italian team" will play for Italy--Francesca Schiavone, Flavia Pennetta, Sara Errani, and Roberta Vinci. Vince is 17-0 in Fed Cup matches, and Pennetta is known--at least on this blog--as the Queen of Fed Cup because of her ability to win Fed Cup matches even when loss appears inevitable.
The Czech Republic is the defending champion. Italy last won Fed Cup in 2010, and also won it in 2009.
In the other semifinal, Russia will play Serbia on red clay (Russia's choice) in Moscow. The 4-time Fed Cup champions' team will consist of Maria Kirilenko, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Svetlana Kuznetsova, and Elena Vesnina. Playing for Serbia are Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic, Bojana Jovanovski, and Aleksandra Krunic. Jovanovski and Krunic won the crucial doubles rubber against Belgium in the first round in February.
In the World Group playoffss, it's Ukraine vs. USA, Japan vs. Belgium, Spain vs. the Slovak Republic, and Germany vs. Australia. Here are the teams:
Ukraine: Lesia Tsurenko, Elina Svitolina, Lyudmyta Kichenok, Nadiya Kichenok
USA: Serena Williams, Christina McHale, Sloane Stephens, Liezel Huber
Japan: Ayumi Morita, Kimiko Date-Krumm, Kurumi Nara, Rika Fujiwara
Belgium: Tamaryn Hendler, Alison Van Uytvanck, Ysaline Bonaventure, An-Sophie Mestach
Spain: Silvia Soler-Espinosa, Lourdes Dominguez Lino, Arantxa Parra Santonja, Nuria Llagostera Vives
Slovak Republic: Dominika Cibulkova, Daniela Hantuchova, Magdalena Rybarikova, Anna Karolina Schmedlova
Germany: Andrea Petkovic, Angelique Kerber, Julia Goerges, Anna-Lena Groenefeld
Australia: Samantha Stosur, Jamila Gajdosova, Casey Dellacqua, Olivia Rogowska
Obviously, there are some names missing. The Russian captain decided against using Vera Zvonareva in this tie, and both Kim Clijsters and Yanina Wickmayer opted not to play for Belgium. Anabel Medina Garrigues was not chosen for the Spanish team.