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31 October 2013

Italians favourites for Fed Cup Final


NEWS ARTICLE

Photo: Paul ZimmerRoberta Vinci (ITA) and captain Corrado Barazzutti

CAGLIARI, SARDINIA: This weekend's Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Final between Italy and Russia pits a team full of experienced players with proven success on the big stage against a side that contains just one player to have played for her country before. In short, it's a classic David and Goliath battle.

Italy will go into the contest full of confidence. They have the world No. 7 in their ranks in the shape of Sara Errani and they have the No. 1 doubles team in the world when Errani and Vinci team up to make a formidable partnership.

Add to that Flavia Pennetta, who has been a part of three Fed Cup-winning teams and who reached her first Grand Slam semifinal at the US Open in September and it's clear to see that Corrado Barazzutti's team would be a match for anyone.

Even Italy's fourth player, Karin Knapp, is ranked No. 41 in the world - a full 95 ranking spots higher than Russia's top-ranked player this weekend - so it's plain to see that the visitors have a lot of groundwork to do if they are going to cause one of the biggest upsets in Fed Cup history.

Repsonsible for trying to topple the Italian giants are three players who will be making their Fed Cup debuts if they get on the court this weekend and one player who has made a fantastic comeback from a career-threatening illness.

Arguably the best player in the Russian team is not the one with the highest ranking. World No. 183 Alisa Kleybanova is on the comeback trail from cancer and the affable 24-year-old is not to be underestimated having reached a career-high ranking of No. 20.

Her team-mate most likely to contest the singles on Saturday is No. 136 Alexandra Panova, who grew up at the same time as Kleybanova and feels that her best is yet to come.

The other two players on the Russian team could prove to be captain Shamil Tarpischev's secret weapons. Little is known about the Russian juniors Irina Khromacheva and Margarita Gasparyan within the Italian camp but both can play.

Khromacheva was ITF Junior World Champion in 2011 and is a three-time junior Grand Slam doubles champion as well as a runner-up at Junior Wimbledon.

Gasparyan, meanwhile won Junior Fed Cup by BNP Paribas in 2010 so is no stranger to the pressure of competing in team tennis.

Undoubtedly the Italians remain firm favourites to win a fourth Fed Cup title but underestimate the Russians at your peril.

The Fed Cup Final starts at 12:30 local time (11:30 GMT) on Saturday 2 November. The draw takes place on Friday 1 November at 12:30 local time (11:30 GMT).

 

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ITA Flag Italy v Russia RUS Flag 2-3 Nov 2013 View details

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  • More photos

    • Roberta Vinci (ITA) and captain Corrado BarazzuttiCourt preparations in Sardinia
    • Court preparations in SardiniaCourt preparations in Sardinia
    • Sara Errani (ITA) signs autographsIrina Khromacheva (RUS)
    • The Russian team for the 2013 Fed Cup FinalKarin Knapp (ITA) in practice
    • The Italian Fed Cup teamThe Tennis Club Cagliari
     
 
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