Fed Cup World R1: Czech Republic vs Spain Day 1 Preview

Fed Cup: WG R1: ?? Czech Republic vs ?? Spain

The Czech Republic will begin their Fed Cup title defense with a tricky opening round tie against Spain at the Ostravar Arena in the Czech Republic. The Czech ladies have been dominant in recent years having won the competition in the last three years and four of the last five. In 2017, the Czech team will be without their leader Petra Kvitova as she is expected to be sidelined due to injury for the entire year. The Czech Republic will still be the team to beat in 2017 led by Karolina Pliskova, Barbora Strycova and Lucie Safarova.

Rubber #1: (CZE) ?? Barbora Strycova vs (ESP) ?? Garbine Muguruza

Garbine Muguruza has a big task ahead of her if she is to lead Spain to victory this weekend in Ostravar. The Spaniard will probably need to win both of her singles matches for Spain to stand a chance as Lara Arruabarrena is unlikely to win a singles match. Muguruza holds a 2-1 head-to-head record over Strycova, however Strycova won their most recent meeting at the Australian Open in 2016, a 6-3 6-2 win.

Strycova has been in great form in 2017, reaching the quarter-finals in Auckland, the semi-finals in Sydney and the fourth round at the Australian Open. Strycova was very influential in guiding the Czech team to victory in the Fed Cup final last year against France, the Czech team was down 1-2 before Strycova beat Cornet and teamed up with Pliskova to win the deciding doubles rubber. Strycova will therefore be full of confidence heading into this weekend’s battle.

This is one of those interesting match-ups that feature a big contrast in styles. Muguruza has the power to blast Strycova off the court but Strycova has the variety and defensive skills to frustrate Muguruza into making errors. Muguruza will come into this match hyper-aware of Strycova’s threat given their most recent match. Muguruza has generally displayed a high level of tennis in 2017 and usually rises to the occasion in matches like this, I think she will be too strong for Strycova on this occasion even if the surface suite Strycova.

Prediction: Garbine Muguruza to defeat Barbora Strycova in 3 sets

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Rubber #2: (CZE) ?? Karolina Pliskova vs (ESP) ?? Lara Arruabarrena

Karolina Pliskova is suddenly the leader of the Czech team in the absence of Petra Kvitova. Pliskova is up to a career high rankings of number 3 in the world after a great start to the 2017 season. Pliskova won the title in Brisbane before going on to make the quarter-finals at the Australian Open. The Australian summer did ultimately end in disappointment for Pliskova when she was surprisingly defeated by Mirjana Lucic-Baroni with a spot in the semi-finals up for grabs.

All signs point to a Karolina Pliskova victory in this match. The indoor surface in Ostravar will suit Pliskova, the world number 3 is far more experienced in Fed Cup action and is in much better form heading into this match. If Muguruza gets the job done against Strycova, the pressure will be all on Pliskova and Arruabarrena may have a better chance if she heads into this match with nothing to lose.

Ultimately this is a bad match-up for Arruabarrena, especially on this surface. Arruabarrena is a decent player but she plays her best tennis of clay and when she has more time to set up the point, this will not be available to her on Saturday. Pliskova should win this rubber quite comfortably.

Prediction: Karolina Pliskova to defeat Lara Arruabarrena in 2 sets

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