Friday, 8 February 2013

Fed Cup

For the past nine years the Czech Republic, Italy and Russia have dominated Fed Cup action and The Overrule believes that stranglehold will continue into its tenth year. Led by Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova along with the doubles tandem of Lucie Hradecka and Andrea Hlavackova the Czechs are in search of their third successive Fed Cup title. At 5/1 they appear overpriced to do so with a number of books with Stan James at a more realistic 7/2.

Let's take a look at this year's draw with Fed Cup action in the world group beginning tomorrow.

Russia justify their tag as favourites and should come out of the bottom half of the draw and may well be further strengthened in the latter stages if Maria Sharapova is available to play. After winning four titles in five years between 2004 and 2008, it's strange to think that Russia have only been to one final since with such a dearth of talent at their disposal. That should change this year, but it's the top half of the draw where our focus lies.

The Czechs are 2/7 to see off Australia at home (as short as 1/5) in first round action, as always the Czechs are choosing to play indoors on hard where they have had outstanding success as a team in the past couple of years. The tie isn't as clear cut as the odds suggest, Kvitova is in anything but imperious form, Safarova hasn't come close to hitting the heights she did in last season's Fed Cup final and Hradecka hasn't been fully fit this year.

That being said, Australia will need Sam Stosur to have an incredible weekend, most likely having to win both singles matches along with victory in doubles in order to oust the Czechs on home soil. Even if the Czech team isn't yet firing on all cylinders, they should have more than enough to see out the tie.

Italy should prevail on clay against an injury decimated USA which would mean that the Czechs travel to Italy for a semi-final in April on clay. The Czechs beat Italy in last year's competition without losing a set before the tie was officially over, but things will be alot tighter on clay. The books are suggesting Italy will be favourites to go through a prospective match-up, but I disagree. The tie is 50/50. Sara Errani, Roberta Vinci and Flavia Pennetta (who should be back playing by semi-final time) have good pedigree on clay, but if any book is offering evens or greater on a full strength Czech team winning in Italy - the value will certainly be on the Czechs.

A prospective final with Russia would be played at home for the Czechs, and once again providing both nations have a full arsenal at their disposal, it will be hard to split them in the pricing. That final is nine months away so it's impossible to speculate at this point how they would match-up, who is in form and who is unavailable through injury.

In totality The Overrule believes a price in the region of 16/5 based on the hardest route possible is a fairer assessment of a third successive Czech title. The Overrule will happily place a couple of points at an inflated 5/1.

Don't be surprised to see Safarova and Hlavackova celebrating like this in 2013 like they were in 2012.

2* Czech Republic win Fed Cup @ 5/1 (Coral)

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