WTA Tour: Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Semi-Finals Preview

Tennis player stands with racquet in hand

Our tennis writer previews this weekend's Fed Cup by BNP Paribas semi-finals taking place in Stuttgart and Arena Pays d’Aix.

Germany 8/10 | Czech Republic 9/10

Porsche Arena, Stuttgart, Indoor Clay
This has the makings of a Fed Cup classic, with top-end players adorning both sides this coming weekend. Germany, under the leadership of Jen Gerlach, will be looking to make the final for the first time since 2014- where they incidentally lost to the all-conquering Czech Republic. Julia Goerges and Angelique Kerber make for imposing singles opponents, while the pairing of Tatjana Maria and Anna-Lena Groenefeld have shown considerable resolve. The two-time Fed Cup Champions Germany will be looking to beat the Czech side for the first time since 1987, where the indomitable Steffi Graf helped catapult Germany to one of their two Fed Cup victories.

The Czech side have won this event an impressive 10 times and have enjoyed a virtual hegemony of the event in recent times: they won the title five times between 2011 and 2016. They have chosen three of their competitors thus far, with the formidable triptych of Karolina Pliskova, Petra Kvitova and Barbora Strycova certain members. They have a myriad of options to finalize the side, with the likes of Katerina Siniakova and Lucie Safarova waiting in the wings. Petr Pala’s side have the distinction of winning at this venue in 2014, with a comfortable 4-1 victory in Prague. Having said all of that, the Czech side have won just one tie on clay since 2007.

The Czech side look very good to me at 9/10. Clearly home ground advantage has played a huge factor in Germany’s odds- perhaps coupled with the Czech’s record on clay. But the Czech side just looks too powerful, especially at a slightly more alluring price than the German side. Kerber has been on the end of a few sound beatings at the hands of Petra Kvitova of late, and I just must side with the Czech side, although it could be tight.

Prediction: Czech side to win 3-2

France 11/4 | USA 2/9

Arena Pays d’Aix, Aix-en Provence 
France play host to their enduring Fed Cup nemesis USA this weekend, with the indoor clay-courts in the Aix-en Provence plating host to the 14th meeting between these two nations. The USA have dominated the rivalry, leading the head-to-head against France 11-2. Yannick Noah will be hoping that Kristina Mladenovic can pull off some more heroics as the powerful USA side rolls into town. Yannick Noah had done wonders with a side that was said to be in internal despair- top seeded French player Caroline Garcia withdrew from the squad. The likes of Parmentier and Alize Cornet have helped back up the individual brilliance of Mladenovic.

The news of that the Williams sisters will not play doubles for the Fed Cup side will take away from the razzmatazz of the event, but it really shouldn’t make too much difference to an American side littered with brilliance. Sloane Stephens, Coco Vandewegh and Madison Keys lead the side, with veteran doubles specialist Bethanie Mattek-Sands completing the line-up. Yes, the event is on clay this week, but there is a positive aura surrounding American Tennis in general.

Kathy Rinaldi’s side should wipe this French side aside. I have a feeling that they may do it in the most emphatic style, winning the first three matches, negating a fourth tie and skipping straight to a dead rubber doubles match. And I fully expect USA to win that too. Perhaps it’s a tad presumptive to expect an away side to dominate so much at this stage, but one glance at the line-up of both sides is emphatic.

Prediction: USA to win 4-0

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.net

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