Czech captain Petr Pala talks to FedCup.com ahead of the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Final, which is taking place at Prague's O2 Arena on 3-4 November. Defending champion Czech Republic is bidding for a seventh Fed Cup title.
What are your thoughts ahead of next week’s Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Final?
“I’m very excited. It’s always a captain and players dream to play in the Final, especially in front of a home crowd. We are looking forward to the whole week.”
What threat does Serbia pose?
“We can expect every match to be tight and to be decided by only a few points. I hope the crowd and surface will help us to get three points.
“Serbia has two former world No. 1 players. They can play big matches and they are used to playing big matches. I think in this tie anyone can beat anyone – that is the biggest threat we are facing, that I expect Ana (Ivanovic) and Jelena (Jankovic) will come.”
Do you think Czech Republic is favourites?
“I would say we are slight favourites. I don’t want to say that it’s 50-50 as everyone is putting us as favourites but I don’t think we are that much favourites. Having the home crowd will be a big advantage for us. From what I’ve heard it’s sold out, in the important moments they can lift up the players. I am looking forward to it.”
Lucie Hradecka and Andrea Hlavackova have had a fantastic year. How important could the doubles rubber be?
“I wouldn’t mind having deciding doubles. It’s very interesting to watch deciding doubles being played but first of all we have to get into it. It’s never written that if we get into the deciding doubles rubber we are going to win it but I think we have a good chance to win the doubles. Nothing is for sure but I wouldn’t mind and I’m never worried in doubles matches. Every time we get there we manage to get match point and only once we didn’t win.”
How much of a buzz is there in Czech Republic at the moment ahead of both the Davis Cup and Fed Cup Finals?
“There’s an unbelievable month to come. Everyone is really excited and looking forward to it. It doesn’t happen very often to have a Davis Cup and a Fed Cup final in the same month in the same venue. I think it’s great for tennis here in Czech, I just hope we manage to win them.”
What impact will hosting both Finals have in Czech Republic?
“There are less kids playing and getting into sport because there are more things to do these days. I hope there will be more kids playing tennis and they get inspiration even if they just watch at home on television. I hope it will inspire them to pick up a racquet or go to a tennis court.”
How much of an advantage is it that you played in the Final last year?
“It can be helpful for Serbia as it was for us last year to play our first Final away from home, especially after Petra (Kvitova) winning the Masters. There was less media pressure or activities that we would have faced at home. I think it helped us so we have to be careful because it won’t be easy - we are facing very tough and hungry opponents.”
Do you feel more pressure defending the title than you did trying to win it for the first time last year?
“There are some expectations for us to win it. We won it last year but now we want to win it at home. Everyone is going to give everything during the week and the girls on the weekend. To win the trophy again, it would be really one of the top things in their career and it’s what they play for.”