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05 October 2011

Familiar ground for Russia


NEWS ARTICLE

Photo: Kivrin/GolovanovOlympic Stadium, Moscow

Moscow’s Olympic Stadium has been a happy hunting ground for the Russian team in recent times, and the hosts of this year’s Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group Final will be hoping to make home advantage count once again when Czech Republic are the visitors on 5-6 November.

Russia haven’t lost a Fed Cup tie at the Olympic Stadium since falling to France in 2003. Since then, Shamil Tarpischev’s side have claimed three straight victories at the venue, taking their overall win-loss record there to a commanding 6-3.

Their most recent outing was in this year’s World Group first round, also against France, when the Russians became only the fourth team in Fed Cup history to successfully overturn a 0-2 deficit, eventually winning 3-2 after Svetlana Kuznetsova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova took the doubles rubber.

Russia have been crowned Fed Cup champions on four occasions, with two of these triumphs arriving on home ground, although this will be the first time they have played a Final at the Olympic Stadium. Their two home wins both arrived in the capital city, Moscow, but they were contested at the Krylatskoe Ice Stadium, in 2004, and the Luzhniki Sports Arena, in 2007.

However, this isn’t the first time that the Olympic Stadium has staged a Fed Cup Final, after it played host to France’s victory over USA in 2003. In those days, the competition adopted a Final Four format at one venue and the Russians were knocked out in the semifinals against the French.

The Olympic Stadium has more experience when it comes to Davis Cup. The Russian men’s team possess a formidable 12-4 record at the venue since Russia started playing as an independent nation in 1993. This includes a 15-year spell between 1995 and 2010 when they remained unbeaten.

Russia have contested three Davis Cup Finals there. In the mid-1990s, they twice missed out on winning their maiden title, losing to Sweden and USA in back-to-back years, before eventually recording victory over Argentina in 2006. By that time, the Russians had already lifted the Davis Cup trophy once before, in 2002, but that was against France in Paris.

For the Czechs, not only is this their first Fed Cup appearance at the Olympic Stadium, but it’s also their first appearance in Russia. The two nations have met on four occasions – three of these when playing under the flags of USSR and Czechoslovakia – and all of them were contested on neutral ground. The head-to-head score is locked at 2-2.

The Olympic Stadium was originally built for the 1980 Summer Olympic Games to host the boxing and basketball events, but has since been used for a variety of different sport and entertainment purposes, from the Bandy World Championships to the Eurovision Song Contest. The capacity of the venue alters for each event, and for the Fed Cup Final there will be 7,800 seats.

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