Lucie Safarova kicks off the Czech Republic's Fed Cup semi-final against Italy. Safarova takes on former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone.
The Czechs are on a revenge mission this weekend in their first home Fed Cup tie for over two years. This time two years ago, they were thumped 5-0 by the Italians on clay in Rome. Safarova was a member of the team that miserable weekend and she's determined to make amends in front of home fans.
The mercurial world number 23 starts this rubber as slight favourite, even though Schiavone is ranked 12 in the world. She played some scintillating tennis in Charleston a couple of weeks ago on the way to the final of that WTA Premier event.
And everyone knows that Schiavone's at her best on clay and vulnerable to shock upsets on faster surfaces. The Italian's form has been miserable recently. Since hitting back to win her second singles rubber in February's round one tie against the Ukraine, she's won just one of six matches on tour. “It’s not great, but I’m going to keep on working hard and find a good feeling. It’s time to feel positive,” she told the press.
Schiavone inflicted a 6-0, 6-2 defeat on Safarova during that semi-final whitewash two years ago but the Czech leads 4-3 on the head-to-head and she had won the first set 6-2 before Schiavone retired in their second round clash in Indian Wells last month.
Prediction: Safarova in two.