Casey and Ash to combine for Australia
Australia will court a combination of youth and experience with its Fed Cup doubles pair, nominating debutante Ash Barty and team stalwart Casey Dellacqua to take on reigning champions the Czech Republic.
At 16, former junior Wimbledon champion Barty will be the youngest Australian Fed Cup player since Jelena Dokic in 1998, while 27-year-old Dellacqua’s history with the national team stretches back almost seven years.
“Ash and Casey as a team have proven that they work exceptionally well and they’ve really been dominating,” team captain Alicia Molik told AAP ahead of the weekend’s first round World Group tie.
The pair were surprise doubles finalists at the Australian Open in January, beaten only by Italian top seeds Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci.
“They are our strongest team right now so yes, they will be making an appearance here playing together and we have belief in them,” Molik said.
While the Czech team is yet to confirm its doubles combination, the likely nominees will be world No.3 pair Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka.
“They were beaten relatively early in the Australian Open,” Molik said of the Czech duo.
“They haven’t won as much (lately) as they’re accustomed to.”
Traditionally the doubles match is the last to be played in the Fed Cup format, and can act as a decider.
Molik stopped short of naming her two singles players for the weekend tie, but the obvious choices remain world No.9 Sam Stosur and Jarmila Gajdosova, who round out the team of four.
Balancing the numbers for the Czech Republic are world No.8 Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova, as the nation looks to win the Cup for a third straight year.
A draw for the best-of-five match tie will take place overnight Friday (AEDT) in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava where play will begin on Saturday.