Italians, Czechs set for Fed Cup semi showdown

Ostrava, Czech Republic ( - Two nations that have combined to win the last five Fed Cup titles will square off this weekend when reigning champion Italy takes on the 2011 and 2012 champion Czech Republic in a best- of-five semifinal in Ostrava.

The much-anticipated tie will commence Saturday when world No. 11 former French Open runner-up Sara Errani takes on Czech Lucia Safarova and that will be followed by a rubber between sixth-ranked former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and rising young Italian Camila Giorgi.

Sunday's action will feature reverse singles between Kvitova and Errani and Safarova and Giorgi, followed by a potentially deciding doubles match between Italians Roberta Vinci and Karin Knapp and Czechs Klara Koukalova and Andrea Hlavackova.

The Italians are 5-4 lifetime against the Czechs, including a win in the semifinal stage this time a year ago in Palermo. Italy first met the former Czechoslovakia in 1981 and has faced the Czech Republic seven times, going 5-2 since 1993.

Team Italy is captained by Corrado Barazzutti, while the Czech Republic will be guided by Petr Pala on an indoor hardcourt at CEZ Arena.

The winner in Ostrava will face the Australia-Germany victor in the Fed Cup final in November.

Italy beat Russia in last year's Fed Cup final to capture its fourth Fed Cup championship in eight years. The Czech Republic owns two titles and the former Czechoslovakia was a five-time winner.