MONTREAL, CANADA: Eugenie Bouchard and her Canadian teammates are eager to be hosting Serbia in their Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group II tie because it's been a while since they've been able to play in front of their own fans.
Canada, which defeated Ukraine in Kiev in a World Group II play-off last April, is playing its first Fed Cup tie on home soil since 2010.
Bouchard and Aleksandra Wozniak are particularly looking forward to having a hometown crowd backing them at Centre Claude Robillard.
"I've played Fed Cup since 2011 and we've always had away ties so it's nice to finally be at home," said Bouchard, who reached the semifinals at the Australian Open before losing to eventual champion Li Na of China.
"It'll be my first home tie so I'm excited to see what it's going to be like. Sometimes we're on the road, we complain about all these bad aspects, because, 'Oh, we're in Ukraine, and the court's not perfect, and the fans are all against us,' but you know what, this week we can't complain.
"This week, it's our turf so everything should be good, and I think the whole team is just really excited to play in front of our fans. And for me personally, this is the city I grew up in and it's fun to play back here. I haven't played here since Rogers Cup 2012 so it's been a year and a half to play in front of my fans back here, so I'm really excited."
The official draw for the tie was held Friday, and Wozniak will face Vesna Dolonc in the opening rubber on Saturday. That will be followed by Bouchard against Jovana Jaksic, who will make her Fed Cup debut for Serbia.
"She had a good run at the Australian Open, but I think that's a bonus motivation for me and my team to play because Fed Cup is something different," Jaksic said. "It's not your own tournament here, it's a team competition and from my opinion and my way of thinking, I think that positive energy from the team can help a lot, and me and the girls, we are really positive all the time the whole week so I think it's going to be all good when the weekend is finished."
Serbia, which lost to the Czech Republic in the 2012 Fed Cup final, won both of the previous two ties it contested against Canada, including a 3-2 win at Spens Sports Center in Novi Sad on Feb 5-6, 2011.
"It was obviously a heartbreaking loss," said Sharon Fichman, who will partner with Gabriela Dabrowski for Canada in doubles against Aleksandra Krunic and Nina Stojanovic. "It came down to the deciding doubles, which myself and Marie-Eve Pelletier played and did not come out victorious. But that's a couple of years ago and I think the team as a whole has come a long way.
"We have myself and Aleks, but now we have Eugenie, and she's playing so well, and Gabby, she's doing great, myself and Aleks, we're all in a different spot. I think that we have a very good opportunity here and I'm very confident that the team is going to come out and play its best tennis when we need to."
Top-ranked singles players Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic led Serbia so close to a Fed Cup title two years ago. While they're not on hand this time around, Serbian captain Dejan Vranes was happy to see that his No. 1 Dolonc will have the opportunity to set the tone for the tie.
"If Vesna wins the match against Wozniak, then it can be bigger pressure on Bouchard in the second match," Vranes said. "I'm sure she doesn't know our second player, Jovana Jaksic, and that can be an advantage."
The full draw is listed below:
R1: Aleksandra Wozniak (CAN) v Vesna Dolonc (SRB)
R2: Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) v Jovana Jaksic (SRB)
R3: Aleksandra Wozniak (CAN) v Jovana Jaksic (SRB)
R4: Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) v Vesna Dolonc (SRB)
R5: Gabriela Dabrowski/Sharon Fichman (CAN) v Aleksandra Krunic/Nina Stojanovic (SRB)
Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) - 07/02/2014
Jovana Jaksic (SRB) - 07/02/2014
Captain Sylvain Bruneau (CAN) - 07/02/2014