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31 October 2013

Kleybanova ready for the pressure of Fed Cup


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Alisa Kleybanova (RUS)

Alisa Kleybanova has had her fair share of battles off the court in recent times, having been diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 2011, but now the 24-year-old Russian is looking to put that in the past and focus on helping Russia to win the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas title.

Kleybanova takes a different approach into training as a result of her illness and after hitting with the Russian team on Thursday at the Tennis Club Cagliari she explained what it means to be competing in the Fed Cup Final.

"I’m looking forward to play in front of the crowd because it gives me a lot of positive energy, even if they are rooting for the Italians," she said. "It's better than nobody watching. I’m really looking forward to it because there will be a lot of energy and emotions."

It might be a sporting cliche to say that it's the taking part that counts but for Kleybanova that old adage rings particulary true at this time in her career.

Having fought her way back into the Top 200, the Russian - who has a career-high ranking of No. 20 - is looking to use the experience of playing in her first Fed Cup Final as a training exercise as much as anything.

"Mentally I am ready for things not to work out because I still really want to enjoy my time," she said. "I want to feel like I finished a good year and mentally be positive the next year.

"Our team is pretty positive. We shouldn’t be upset by a bad day. We have to be happy: we’re playing tennis, we’re playing for our team, our country, we’re proud of it and we are in a great place. Everything is very good.

"Fed Cup is very different and it’s much harder for most players than just a normal tournament because the atmosphere is much more stressful and there is a lot of pressure and it’s a lot of responsibility."

Kleybanova is back and with her mental strength she could cause problems.

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