Fed Cup Final Czech Republic vs Russia, Day 2 Match Previews & Predictions
The final day of the Fed Cup final in Prague promises to be an epic. The tie is perfectly poised after Day 1 where Petra Kvitova and Maria Sharapova picked up victories over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Karolina Pliskova. The tie is squared at 1 win apiece with the reverse singles rubbers and perhaps a doubles match to come on Day 2 to decide the 2015 Fed Cup champion on Sunday.
Match 3: Petra Kvitova vs Maria Sharapova
The blockbuster match that we have all been waiting for between Petra Kvitova and Maria Sharapova will kick-start proceedings on Day 2 of the Fed Cup final in Prague. With the tie squared at 1 win apiece, this clash looms as the most important rubber of the tie when the two leaders of each team go head-to-head.
Petra Kvitova continued her stunning Fed Cup record on Saturday, recording a 2-6 6-1 6-1 victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the opening rubber of the tie. Kvitova has now won 21 of her last 23 Fed Cup singles matches. Petra made a wayward start to the match, committing far too many unforced errors to gift the opening set to Pavlyuchenkova. Petra really raised her level in the second and third sets and the Russian couldn’t keep up. Kvitova will enter this clash full of confidence after beating Maria a couple of weeks ago at the semi-final stage of the WTA Finals in Singapore.
Maria Sharapova made a winning start to her first ever Fed Cup final campaign on Saturday courtesy of a 6-3 6-4 victory over Karolina Pliskova. The pressure was totally on Maria heading into this match, a loss for Russia would have left them 0-2. Maria responded like a true champion, aggressively dictating the play from start to finish and silencing the Czech crowd in the process. Maria is on a mission this week and will have had her eyes set on a rematch with Kvitova ever since her loss to the Czech at the WTA Finals in Singapore last month.
Maria Sharapova holds a 6-4 head-to-head record over Kvitova, however Petra has won the last 2 meetings between the pair. Both of those victories came in Singapore, a 6-3 7-6 win last month and a 6-3 6-2 win last year.
This promises to be a fierce encounter with so much on the line. Kvitova’s Fed Cup record is impressive, but if anyone can stop her, it is Maria. I fancy a determined Sharapova to get the job done here and place the Russian team in the driver’s seat on Day 2. It’s hard to see Maria losing to Petra 3 times in a row, she simply will not let that happen.
Prediction: Maria Sharapova to defeat Petra Kvitova in 3 sets
Match 4: Karolina Pliskova vs Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
The pressure of the Fed Cup final will fall to Karolina Pliskova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova when the two meet in the extremely important fourth rubber, this match could potentially be the decisive rubber, one of these ladies will have the opportunity to end the tie depending on the result of the first match of the day. This is a massive opportunity for two relatively inexperienced players to stand up and make a real impact.
It was a shock decision to see Karolina Pliskova be chosen to play Maria Sharapova instead of Lucie Safarova in the opening singles rubber. Karolina was unable to seriously challenge the Russian number 1, suffering a 3-6 4-6 loss. Karolina didn’t serve particularly well and was made to look quite powerless as Sharapova dictated proceedings. It has been a long year for Karolina, the Czech has played more games than anyone else on the WTA tour in the last 12 months. Perhaps Karolina is understandably running out of gas.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova looked like causing a massive boilover in the opening match the tie on Saturday when she stormed past Petra Kvitova to take the opening set. However the Russian’s resistance gradually decreased as Petra Kvitova raised her level, the Czech eventually secured a 2-6 6-1 6-1 victory. Despite the loss, there were some positive signs for Pavlyuchenkova, she will certainly fancy her chances against Pliskova on Sunday.
Karolina won the only previous encounter between the pair 6-2 6-4 earlier this year in Dubai. I expect the score to be very different on this occasion. I feel like Pavlyuchenkova is fresher mentally and physically heading into this match and will also deal with the situation much better.
Pliskova has played a lot of tennis this year and has seemed to struggling physically in her last few tournaments, furthermore her record in big matches this year has been very poor. Pavlyuchenkova certainly has much more variety, better movement and her game is generally much more solid. Karolina didn’t serve particularly well on Saturday, and will need to improve quite significantly if she is to get the job done here. Pavlyuchenkova’s form has generally been better in the last couple of months, I think Pavlyuchenkova can win this one.