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France seek another Fed Cup surprise

2015-04-16 10:12
Petra Kvitova (AFP)

Ostrava - Memories of a spectacular comeback against Italy two months ago will propel France as they face holders the Czech Republic in the Fed Cup semi-finals at the weekend.

"It was a great satisfaction to get that win over Italy and we are definitely looking forward to another really tough one in Czech Republic," said France captain Amelie Mauresmo.

In February, France came back from 2-0 down after day one to beat 2009, 2010 and 2013 champions Italy in the Fed Cup quarter-finals in Genoa.

With the same team as in Italy, they are now facing the Czechs who lifted the trophy in 2011, 2012 and 2014.

"We know that their team is unbelievable," said Mauresmo, who also coaches Briton Andy Murray and who made headlines by announcing her pregnancy earlier this month.

The Czechs have called up world number four Petra Kvitova alongside Karolina Pliskova (12), Lucie Safarova (13) and Barbora Strycova (23).

On the hard-court in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava, France will rely on 28th-ranked Alize Cornet, Caroline Garcia (29), Pauline Parmentier (89) and Kristina Mladenovic, who is ranked 58th for singles and 10th for doubles.

It was Mladenovic who started the comeback in Italy by stunning Sara Errani, and Mauresmo is hoping to inspire her girls to more surprises.

"I hope to find the words. I hope the girls are having a great level and we'll see," said the 35-year-old former world number one.

The French are appearing in the Fed Cup semi-finals for the first time since 2007 and attempting to reach the final, an achievement they last pulled off in 2005, when they lost to Russia at Roland Garros.

The last time they lifted the trophy was in 2003 when they defeated the United States.

The Czechs, who beat Canada in the quarter-finals, giggled their way through their press conference on Wednesday, showing good spirits and self-confidence.

As so often in the past years, the team will rely on Kvitova, who is coming back after a month-long break from tennis.

Kvitova, the 25-year-old Wimbledon champion from 2011 and 2014, last played at Doha in February, then skipped the Indian Wells and Miami tournaments citing "mental and physical weariness".

After a few training sessions with Kvitova in Ostrava, her team-mate Safarova said "she played great, as always."

"When you take a longer break, the first event after the comeback is the toughest, but Petra is a great player with great experience and I have no doubt she will play excellent tennis here."

But she knows the tie against France will be no stroll.

"They might be worse when you look at the rankings but they definitely have a strong, young and balanced team and it won't be easy," said Safarova.

Read more on:    petra kvitova  |  tennis

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