April 19, 2013 3:50 PM
Italy and Czech Republic prepare for their meeting in the semi-finals of the Fed Cup on Friday Having struggled for more than two decades to reproduce the form that gave the old Czechoslovakia five Federation Cup titles, the Czech Republic has eased into another golden era. Champions in 2011 and 2012, the Czechs' last defeat came three years ago next week - when the Italians beat them on the clay of the Foro Italico in Rome. Since then, the Italians have travelled to Ostrava and lost setting things up nicely for a close battle on the red clay of Palermo. Klara Zakapalova withdrew from the Czech team due to illness but that doesn't seem to weaken their line-up significantly. Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova will contest the singles matches, while the specialist doubles team of Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka will play that tie. Safarova is currently ranked 25th in the world and beat Samantha Stosur of Australia in two tight sets when the Czech Republic defeated them in their Fed Cup quarter final earlier this season.