Kvitova to open Czechs' defence

  • Last Updated: February 8 2013, 14:56 GMT

Petra Kvitova will open the Czech Republic's defence of the Fed Cup on Saturday.

Petra Kvitova: First up for the Czechs

The world number eight will get the Czechs' World Group I first-round tie with Australia under way by taking on Jarmila Gajdosova.

The second rubber will see the heroine of last year's final win over Serbia, Lucie Safarova, face Aussie number one Sam Stosur.

The reverse singles will take place on Sunday before the potentially decisive doubles rubber for which new Australia captain Alicia Molik has named 16-year-old Ashleigh Barty alongside Casey Dellacqua. They are due to take on Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka.

The Czechs are this year bidding for a title hat-trick having also lifted the trophy in 2011 but Molik feels now is the "perfect time" to be facing them.

"It couldn't be a more perfect scenario for us to come to (the) Czech Republic and play the Czech team," she said.

"They are all incredibly high achievers and they've had a lot of wins ... but runs on the board over the last three months maybe isn't what they've expected themselves so it's the perfect time for us to play them."

Elsewhere, USA face a tough task away to Italy as they are without the Williams sisters and rising star Sloane Stephens.

Jamie Hampton will open against claycourt expert Sara Errani in Rimini before Vavara Lepchenko takes on Roberta Vinci.

In the bottom half of the draw, Serbia, having lost Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic to injury, have picked Bojana Jovanovski and Vesna Dolonc for singles against the Slovak Republic in Nis. They will face Daniela Hantuchova and Dominika Cibulkova respectively on Saturday.

Russia pulled no surprises by nominating Maria Kirilenko and Ekaterina Makarova for the singles against Japan in Moscow.

Kirilenko will open the tie against 42-year-old Kimiko Date Krumm, before Makarova faces Ayumi Morita.

In World Group II, Marion Bartoli had hoped to end a nine-year absence from the French team but having been laid low by a virus she was forced to withdraw from their tie against Germany.

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