World gets ready for Fed Cup fever

Story highlights

  • Czech Republic face Serbia in the 2012 Fed Cup final in Prague
  • Host nation is aiming to clinch its second consecutive title
  • Serbia won men's Davis Cup in 2010 and women are desperate to emulate them
  • Lucie Safarova will face Ana Ivanovic in the first rubber in front of a sell-out crowd

Two years might have passed since Serbia's men triumphed in the Davis Cup -- but the nation's women are now ready to etch their name into tennis folklore.

When Ana Ivanovic begins her match against Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic in Prague on Saturday, she will begin her country's challenge against the reigning champion.

The team of Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic, Bojana Jovanovski and Aleksandra Krunic are desperate to pull off a repeat performance of the men's victory over France in 2010.

In their way stand a Czech team hoping to secure its second consecutive title following a 3-2 win over Russia last year.

But Ivanovic, ranked 12th in the world, says the inspiration of events in Belgrade on that fateful night will act as a motivating factor.

Serbian women complete 'impossible' Fed Cup mission

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"I remember a couple of years ago," Ivanovic told reporters.

    "I was there when they [the Serbian Davis Cup team] were winning and it was epic. We will try our best and to match what the guys did would be amazing."

    Serbia has never won the Fed Cup and so the opportunity of being the first women from the country to land the honour is a huge lure for the team.

    "It's an historical moment for Serbian women's tennis," Jankovic told the tournament's official website.

    "We are all excited to be here in Prague and to have this opportunity to win the title, which is our ultimate goal and we very much look forward to the competition.

    "Winning Fed Cup would be a very special feeling. It's difficult to compare it to your individual tournaments when you are lifting trophies because you are basically there on your own and here you can celebrate with your team.

    "For me, personally, the inspiration is the Serbian people and I always feel an obligation to give more than 100 per cent. Winning the title would be an amazing achievement."

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    A sell-out crowd of 13,800 is expected after tickets for the final sold out in less than six hours with Petra Kvitova's father, Jiri, buying 100 for his friends and family.

    Kvitova is set to overcome the bout of bronchitis which forced her to withdraw from last week's WTA Championships.

    The 22-year-old, who is ranked eighth in the world, will lead the Czech charge and insists the pressure of playing in front of an expectant home crowd won't affect the players.

    "I don't think that we have a pressure because we are the defending champions," she told the competition's official website.

    "I think it's because we are playing at home, it's a full stadium and 14,000 people will come to support us. I'm looking forward to the tie for every minute."

    Meanwhile in France, home favorite Gilles Simon booked his place in the semifinals of the Paris Masters.

    Simon defeated fifth seed 6-4 6-4, who is aiming to reach is second Masters 1000 final, will now face Polish qualifier Jerzy Janowicz.

    Janowicz, who defeated Andy Murray on Thursday, saw off Janko Tipsarevic, who was forced to retire through illness with the Pole leading 3-6, 6-1, 4-.1

    "In the second and third set I just played the best tennis of my life," Janowicz told the ATP website.

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    "I didn't know actually I can play that good. It's really not easy for me to realise what is going on in my life right now.

    "Right now I'm playing the best tennis of my life, and I hope tomorrow I can play even better.

    "I don't know what I should expect from myself, but I hope I will not finish tomorrow this tournament yet."

    David Ferrer is the highest surviving seed remaining in the competition after he defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-2 7-5.

    The Spaniard, seeded fourth, will now play home favourite Michael Llodra for a place in the final.

    Llodra saw off America's Sam Querrey 7-6 6-3 and will now hope to beat Ferrer for the first time having lost his previous two contests against the World No. 5.

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