Fed Cup: Final Prediction


Will it be Czechmate for the Russians in Prague?


The final of the 2015 Fed Cup pits the reigning champions, the Czech Republic against Russia on the indoor hard courts in Prague, Czech Republic.

The Czech Republic will be looking for their 9th victory and their 4th in the last five, whilst Russia will be hoping for their 5th and 1st since 2008.

Both teams have drafted a stellar ensemble to represent their nation. The Czech’s have Fed Cup stalwart (6) Petra Kvitova spearheading their team, with newcomer (11) Karolina Pliskova bringing up the rear, whilst the Russian’s will debut (4) Maria Sharapova in a Fed Cup final with in form (28) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova alongside.

Kvitova has been a major part of the Czech’s recent domination of the event. The 25 year old has contributed to their wins in 2011, 2012 and 2014, boasting an enviable 5-1 win loss record in Fed Cup final matches, losing only to Ana Ivanovic in 2012. Kvitova comes into the event behind a run to the final of the WTA Finals in Singapore and as she did against France in this year’s semi finals, will be expected to pull the team through before the home crowd.

In contrast, this will be Pliskova’s first Fed Cup final. The 23 year old won both of her matches against Canada during the quarter final stages of the event earlier this year and has no doubt been drafted in due to her recent run to the final at the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai. This is an interesting choice by team captain, Petr Pala as opposed to going with French Open finalist, (9) Lucie Safarova, who has been sidelined to doubles duty this weekend. Despite Safarova’s 3-2 win loss record in Fed Cup finals, her recent lack of form and health might have had an impact on Pala’s selection process.

Sharapova will be making her much awaited debut in a Fed Cup final. Whether it’s been scheduling conflicts or injuries in the past, Sharapova hasn’t contributed to any of Russia’s past four successes in Fed Cup finals. However, with Olympic qualification riding on an appearance in the Fed Cup and the fact that she’s comparatively fresh seeing as she missed so much of the season due to injury, the 28 year old will be the driving force behind her team this time around. Coming in off of a semi final appearance at the WTA Finals, Sharapova will hope to continue winning on her rare appearances in the team event, considering she’s won 5 of the 6 matches she’s played throughout her career during the quarter final stages, including going 2-0 against Poland earlier this year.

More from WTA

Perhaps unexpectedly, Pavlyuchenkova finds herself as the more experienced player on the singles team. The 24 year old represented Russia in the 2011 final, winning her only match against Lucie Safarova and was instrumental in edging the Germans 3-2 in the semi finals earlier this year. Team captain and former French Open champion, Anastasia Myskina, must have seen the potential in placing Pavlyuchenkova into the second singles spot, considering she won 19 successive matches indoors through 2014 and 2015, recently winning the title in Linz and making the final in Moscow.

On Saturday, Kvitova will open proceedings against Pavlyuchenkova. The Czech leads the head to head 6-3, winning their latest meeting on clay in Madrid earlier this year 61 64. Despite this, I feel that the Russian has been playing the better tennis of the two lately and could cause an early upset as I’m sure Kvitova will feel the strain of expectation.

Later, Sharapova will face Pliskova in their first ever encounter. I suspect that Sharapova will have too much experience for her opponent and Russia could well finish the day up 2-0.

More from WTA

On Sunday, Kvitova will play Sharapova in the blockbuster encounter of the tie. Though Sharapova leads the head to head 6-4, she’s lost their last two encounters indoors at the WTA Finals, the latest being a 63 76(3) semi final defeat around two weeks ago. As I expect Kvitova will be less uptight and more confident given her recent win against Sharapova, I expect the Czech to win this one.

Lastly, Pavlyuchenkova will play Pliskova in what could decide the tie. The Czech thrashed Pavlyuchenkova earlier this year in Dubai in their only previous meeting and could well force a decisive doubles match.

In this case, Lucie Safarova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic would face Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina from Russia. As the Russian duo are former French and US Open champions together, I’d expect them to clinch it.

As you can see, I think this Fed Cup final will be very close. The fast hard courts will be to the liking of all the players and it will be a question of who can handle the pressure of representing their country the most.

The evidence seems to point in favour of the Czech’s winning, considering they’ve only lost one final (1986) and lead Russia 3-2 in their overall head to head since first meeting in 1981. However, despite the fact that Russia have lost 5 finals, I think that they have a slight advantage with mental titan, Maria Sharapova on their side.

Fed Cup: Final Prediction- Russia

Next: WTA Zhuhai: Final Prediction

More from Lob and Smash