Tennis: Kvitova, Gajdosova start as Czechs face Australia

Petra Kvitova of holders Czech Republic will take on Australia's Jarmila Gajdosova in the opening singles rubber of the Fed Cup World Group first-round tie in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava on Saturday, following Friday's draw.

After the first rubber pitting the Czech number one against Australia's number two, Czech number two Lucie Safarova will face Australia's number one Samantha Stosur.

"I'll try to make things easier for Lucie," said Kvitova, the world number eight, who led the Czech Republic to two straight Fed Cup victories in 2011 and 2012.

Gajdosova, born in Slovakia which formed a single country with the Czech Republic until 1993, is the current world number 168, following two tough seasons that have seen her slump from a career-high ranking of 25.

"She is on the way up and she can surprise anyone. I have to get ready for that," the 22-year-old Kvitova, the 2011 Wimbledon champion, said before the tie played on hard surface in Ostrava, about 320 kilometres (200 miles) east of Prague.

On Sunday, Kvitova will first face Stosur, the world number nine and 2011 US Open champion. If the tie is not decided by then, 18th-ranked Safarova will take on Gajdosova.

Under new Fed Cup rules, a doubles rubber will be played in any case -- after the fourth rubber, or right after the third if one of the teams takes a winning 3-0 lead.

In the doubles game, Czechs Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka, the world numbers three and four for doubles, will face Australian Open finalists Casey Dellacqua (21 in doubles) and 16-year-old Ashleigh Barty (46).

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 puts both teams second in the historic Fed Cup rankings behind the US with 17 trophies.