Kvitova to lead Czechs in Fed Cup semi-finals

Petra KvitovaPRAGUE: Reigning Wimbledon champion and world number three Petra Kvitova will lead holders Czech Republic in the Fed Cup semi-final tie against Italy in Ostrava on April 21-22, the Czech team said Wednesday.

Team captain Petr Pala also called up 23-ranked Lucie Safarova, and doubles specialists Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka, numbers eight and 10 in the WTA doubles rankings. The in-form Safarova made it to the finals at Charleston last weekend. Hlavackova and Hradecka have won two WTA tournaments this year after clinching the Roland Garros trophy in 2011. Kvitova, who has been sidelined with an illness and injury for most of the past two months, said in a statement she was looking forward to the tie in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava, as she is “beginning to miss tennis”.

“It’s no good analysing the nomination, the key thing is who will play and how, and who will win the three points we need to advance to the finals,” she added. The Czechs beat Russia 3-2 in Moscow last November to win their first Fed Cup trophy since their country split with Slovakia in 1993. Meanwhile, former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone and Flavia Pennetta will lead Italy in the Fed Cup semifinal against the Czech Republic.

Italy captain Corrado Barazzutti also picked Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci on Wednesday to play in the best-of-five home series on an indoor hard court in Ostrava. Schiavone, who won at Roland Garros in 2010, is at No. 12 in the WTA rankings. Pennetta is at No. 24, while Vinci has climbed to No. 18 and Errani No. 33. Italy are ranked No. 1 in Fed Cup and won the title in 2006, 2009 and 2010, when they stormed past the Czechs 5-0 in the semifinals. – Dailytimes