The final of the Fed Cup takes place in Moscow next weekend and whilst Russia have the home tie, they know they’ll be up against tough opponents in the shape of the Czech Republic, who are looking to win for the first time since 1988.

2011 Fed Cup so far

The Russians come into this one on the back of a huge 5-0 win, in the semi-finals, over defending Fed Cup Champions and the No.1 ranked country in the world, Italy.

Maria KirilenkoLed by captain, Shamil Tarpischev, Russia have not had everything their own way, on route to the final they needed to come through a tense encounter with France in the First Round before eventually prevailing 3-2, following the deciding rubber.

The Czech team are led by captain, Petr Pala and boast the strengths of Wimbledon Champion and current World No.3, Petra Kvitova in their ranks.

The Czechs are currently ranked behind Italy and Russia, at World No.3, and have squeezed through their two previous matches with 3-2 wins against Slovak Republic and Belgium.

The Teams

Both teams have announced their official team nominations for November’s final and, at this stage, it’s the Russians who appear to have most strength in depth. Vera Zvonareva, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Maria Kirilenko make up the Russian squad and all four players are currently ranked inside the World’s Top 30 in singles. Kirilenko is the lowest ranked singles player in the team but her strengths will be put to use in the doubles, where she is currently ranked at World No.5

The Czech team will be made up of Petra Kvitova, Lucie Safarova, Lucie Hradecka and Kveta Peschke. Kvitova is clearly the top singles player for the team and having won all four of the rubbers she has played on the way to the final, the pressure will really be on her to take another two points for the team here. Backing Kvitova up in the singles will likely be Lucie Safarova. Currently ranked at World No.24, the 24-year-old did record an impressive singles victory over Daniella Hantuchova in the first round, but lost to Cepelova in her second rubber and was comprehensively beaten by Italy’s Francesca Schiavone in last year’s semi-final tie.

Along with Petra Kvitova, the Czechs will be hopeful that a strong doubles combination can tilt the tie in their favor. 36-year-old Kveta Peschke is currently ranked at No.2 in the World for Doubles and like her compatriot, Kvitova, is a current Wimbledon Champion. Peschke will most likely team up with Lucie Hradecka, ranked at No.15 in Doubles.

History

The Czechs have won this event on five occasions previously, although it’s been well over 20 years since their last victory in 1988 and they have actually never won the event under the name of the Czech Republic.

Russia have won one less title than their Czech counterparts but most significantly, all of their four wins have come since 2004. They last won the title in 2008 and before finally winning their first Fed Cup in 2004, Russia had lost four finals in succession.

Picks

The tennis odds makers have Russia as the clear favorites to win this one and considering they will have home advantage, and are coming in off the back of a 5-0 victory over the defending Champions, it’s very easy to see why the odds are strongly in their favor.

Petra Kvitova is key to Czech success and she will most likely need to win both her singles rubbers, to give her team a chance. Whilst the 21-year-old powerhouse had a storming first half of 2011, culminating in her Wimbledon glory, things have not gone so well since, and despite a 4-0 record in Fed Cup matches so far this season, it’s very difficult to see the young Czech beating two of the highest ranked Russian players over one weekend.

I’d expect to see the Russians take their fifth title here without too much fuss. Kvitova will certainly be capable of winning one of her rubbers and the Czechs could do well in the doubles, however, I think there’s every chance the Russians could come out winners with maybe a 4-1 score line.

Odds

To Win Fed Cup – Pinnacle Sports

Russia – 1.437

Czech Republic – 3.000