Barbora Strycova will launch the Czech Republic’s Fed Cup victory bid on Saturday when she faces American Sofia Kenin in the opening match on Saturday.
Czech ambitions to claim an 11th title have been dampened with the loss of both Karolina Pliskova (injury) and Petra Kvitova, who is sick but hoping to recover in time for Sunday.
Strycova, the 33rd-ranked Czech no 2, will hope to put the first point on the board when she faces 19-year-old Kenin, who is still in search of her maiden WTA singles title, on the hardcourt of Prague’s O2 Arena.
Katerina Siniakova, the world no 31, will then face 63rd-ranked Alison Riske in Saturday’s second rubber. Siniakova has replaced seventh-ranked Kvitova as the Czech no 1 after the two-time Wimbledon champion pulled out of Saturday’s singles with a bad cold.
On Sunday, Siniakova is due to face Kenin and Strycova will then take on Riske. Siniakova and Barbora Krejcikova are then scheduled to face Danielle Collins and the Czech-born Nicole Melichar in the final doubles rubber.
The teams may change after day one and if Kvitova gets better, she is certain to appear on the court on Sunday. The US, eyeing a record-extending 19th title, are missing Sloane Stephens, Serena Williams and Madison Keys.
The United States beat Belarus in Minsk in last year’s final after seeing off the Czechs in the semi-final. The US and the Czechs are the most successful teams in Fed Cup history, with the hosts also being second best in terms of head-to-head, winning only two of their previous 12 meetings.
Led by Kvitova and Pliskova, the Czechs have won five of the last seven editions including all three finals they have played on Prague’s hardcourt.