Ostrava, Czech Republic – Former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone will play in Saturday's opening singles rubber in the best-of-five Fed Cup semifinal between Italy and the reigning titlist and host Czech Republic.
The 2010 French Open winner and 2011 Roland Garros runner-up Schiavone will kick things off against 23rd-ranked Czech Lucie Safarova on the indoor hardcourt at Ostrava's CEZ Arena.
The second singles rubber will pit world No. 3 Czech Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova against last week's Barcelona titlist Sara Errani, who's ranked 28th in the world.
Sunday's reverse singles will pit Kvitova against Schiavone and Errani versus Safarova, while the potentially-deciding doubles rubber has an Italian tandem of Errani and Roberta Vinci battling a quality Czech duo of Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka, who were last year's French Open doubles champs.
The lefthanded Kvitova has been slowed by injuries and illness since February and has played only three matches, going 1-2, on the WTA since she led the Czechs past the Germans, 4-1, in a Fed Cup quarterfinal two months ago.
Italy is 4-1 all-time versus the Czech Republic, including wins in their last four meetings.
The Czech Republic captured its first-ever Fed Cup title last year by besting Russia in the final. The Italians own three titles, including back-to-back ones in 2009 and 2010, and have played in four of the last six Fed Cup finals. going 3-1.
Team Czech Republic is captained by Petr Pala, while the Italians are guided by Corrado Barazzutti, who also has world No. 24 Flavia Pennetta at his disposal this weekend.
The Czech Republic-Italy winner will meet the Russia-Serbia victor in the World Group final in November.