Tennis: Fed Cup holders Czechs face Australia

Holders Czech Republic will take on Australia in the Fed Cup's first round in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava at the weekend, with eyes on a treble and concerns about the form of their top singles players.

For world number eight Petra Kvitova and 18th-ranked Lucie Safarova, two left-handers who led the Czechs to their two straight Fed Cup victories in 2011 and 2012, the star moment this year was reaching the Paris quarter-finals last week.

"If ever there is a good time (to face the Czechs), now it is," Australia's world number nine Samantha Stosur said on her website ahead of the tie against the Czechs, who have by won six Fed Cup ties in a row.

"But the Czech girls love playing Fed Cup and playing at home I'm sure they are going to be very motivated to bring their best tennis," added the 28-year-old.

The Australians got a boost at the Australian Open last month, with Casey Dellacqua and Ashleigh Barty reaching the doubles finals and Jarmila Gajdosova winning the mixed doubles.

Dellacqua and 16-year-old Barty, the world numbers 21 and 46 for doubles, are likely to take on 3rd and 4th-ranked Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka should the Fed Cup tie need a decisive doubles rubber.

The fourth member of the Australian team, Gajdosova, the world number 168 with a career-high ranking of 25, was born in Slovakia, which formed a single country with the Czech Republic until 1993.

Kvitova, the 2011 Wimbledon champion, said she was pinning comeback hopes on the team event played on hard surface in Ostrava, about 320 kilometres (200 miles) east of Prague.

"My results are not exactly what I want them to be, but I still believe it will be OK. I know I can play tennis, and I like Fed Cup, the week is always great when the fans come and support us," said the 22-year-old.

Besides the two recent wins for the Czech Republic, the former Czechoslovakia lifted the Fed Cup five times between 1975 and 1988, while Australia won the trophy seven times between 1964 and 1974.

This makes both teams the runners-up in the historic Fed Cup rankings behind the US with 17 trophies.