The Fed Cup, the national team competition in women’s tennis, has been taken home most often by our very own USA players (17 times). However, the USA’s last win was in 2000, and other nations have begun creating records of their own. Australia has pulled in an impressive 7 wins, along with the Czech Republic. Spain can claim 5, and both Italy and Russia also have 4 titles to their name. Originally, the Fed Cup was created in 1963 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the International Tennis Federation. It quickly became the world’s largest annual international team competition in women’s sport, with an astounding 95 nations taking part.
Once again, the USA has failed to make it to the Fed Cup final, despite their past reputation, and the final will be held this weekend (Nov 8th-9th) in Prague between the Czech Republic and Germany. The Czech Republic is headed by Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, who will be counting on her home advantage as she faces Germany’s best, Angelique Kerber. Playing in the Czech Republic may seem magical, but it may also double the pressure on Kvitova to secure the third Fed Cup for her country in four years.
Germany has won twice before, in 1987 and 1992, but the Czechs are the favorites going into the finals. The Czechs have a 6-1 history with the Germans, however it is also true that their last meeting was against a German team lacking both Kerber and Sabine Lisicki. This weekend, Germany will boast both of these talented players. Both teams will have three women each ranked within the top 30, resulting in a tough win for either side.
The German team will be led by world number 10, Kerber, along with world number 14, Petkovic, 27th ranked Sabine Lisicki and 75th ranked Julia Goerges. The Germans will also have a strong motivation to win, not having secured a Fed Cup win since 1992, when German phenom Steffi Graf was in her her prime. Chances are, they’ll be looking to break the 20 year pattern of loss.
“It’s a very emotional thing for us,” said Germany’s number two player, Andrea Petkovic. “I think we are very tired. It’s been a long season. We obviously had to fly in the middle of the season to Australia for Fed Cup but being here makes up for it.”
Petkovic has reason to be tired; she recently picked up a season-ending WTA title.
Petra Kvitova of the Czech team was sent home from the WTA championship with a 6-2 6-3 loss to Caroline Wozniacki, but the disappointment will only spur her to play harder for the Fed Cup. Kvitova thinks a third win there (she helped the Czech team secure wins in both 2011 and 2012 already) would end her 2014 season on a high note. Top players besides Kvitova present at the Fed Cup will be doubles world number 15 Andrea Hlavackova, doubles 22nd ranked Lucie Hradecka and world number 24 Karolina Pliskova.
Says Kvitova, “I love playing Fed Cup because it’s for my country and I always really love to play team competitions.” She added, “It’s something very special for me to play, because tennis is so individual, and to be as a team for two, three weeks during the year is just great.”