France seeking major upset in Fed final v Czechs

Fri Nov 11, 2016 10:25am EST
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By Julien Pretot

PARIS (Reuters) - Outsiders France face a daunting task when they take on 2014 and 2015 champions Czech Republic at the Fed Cup final in Strasbourg this weekend.

The Czechs have won four of the last five editions while France are in the final for the first time since 2005.

French pair Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic are ranked second in doubles but the holders have two top singles players in double grand slam champion Petra Kvitova and world number six Karolina Pliskova.

Mladenovic and Garcia were picked by captain Amelie Mauresmo after their suspension, for damaging the French federation's image at the 2016 Rio Olympics following a mix-up over clothing, was lifted in September.

Mauresmo, who as a player led her nation to their last title in 2003, believes her team can pull off an upset.

"The rankings reflect the form of a season," she told French media.

"What I want from my players is that they compete with their rivals for two days," added Mauresmo who is hoping to become the fourth woman, after Margaret Court, Billie Jean King and Chris Evert, to win the Fed Cup as a player and captain.

Mladenovic will open proceedings on the Rhenus Sport arena hardcourt on Saturday against U.S. Open runner-up Pliskova before Garcia takes on Kvitova. The reverse singles and the doubles are held on Sunday.   Continued...

Tennis - Hong Kong Open semi-finals - Daria Gavrilova of Australia v Kristina Mladenovic of France - Hong Kong, China - 15/10/16. Mladenovic returns a shot. REUTERS/Bobby Yip