Vera Zvonareva has pulled out of the Russia vs. Czech Republic Fed Cup final because of a sore shoulder. Replacing her on the team will be Maria Kirilenko, whose first duty will be to play Petra Kvitova in the opening rubber. After that, Svetlana Kuznetsova will play Lucie Safarova. Kirilenko is 2-0 against Kvitova, but they have not played since 2009.
Play begins tomorrow at the Olympic Stadium in Moscow, on a relatively slow hard court surface (designed to keep WTA Championships winner Kvitova at bay). The second set of rubbers will feature Kuznetsova vs. Kvitova and Kirilenko vs. Safarova. If a doubles rubber is played, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Elena Vesnina will play for Russia, and Lucie Hradecka and Kveta Peschke will play for the Czech team. Team captains are allowed to make substitutes, however.
The Russian competitors have done their practice hits against left-handed players as preparation to face both Kvitova and Safarova.
Russia has won Fed Cup four times. The Czech Republic, as such, has never won Fed Cup, but Czechoslovakia won the title five times. The last time Czechoslovakia won, in 1988, the USSR was the finalist.