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Kvitova struggling to shake cold ahead of Fed Cup final

Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic wipes her forehead after missing a shot against Petra Martic of Croatia at the Pan Pacific Open tennis t
Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic wipes her forehead after missing a shot against Petra Martic of Croatia at the Pan Pacific Open tennis t

By Jan Lopatka

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Petra Kvitova hopes her recent illness will not scupper her efforts to lead the Czech Republic's Fed Cup title defense on home soil in the final against Serbia this weekend.

Kvitova pulled out of the WTA championships in Istanbul last week with a cold and had her first full training session on Thursday ahead of the opening singles rubbers on Saturday.

The world number eight, who led the Czechs to their first title since 1988 against Russia in Moscow last year, said she hoped to be better for the clash.

"I am feeling fine, I believe tomorrow everything will be as it should be. Of course I am not 100 percent healthy," she said after Friday's draw that pitted her against Jelena Jankovic in Saturday's second singles rubber.

"After not having trained as I should have, it looked quite good, I am satisfied with how I played yesterday.

"The cold is limiting me a little, I cannot breathe as much as I could, but hopefully this is a small thing. Physically there will be a deficit, given I had to take antibiotics, but I believe I can make it."

The 22-year-old will be joined on the Czech team by world no. 17, and fellow left-hander, Lucie Safarova and an experienced doubles team of Lucie Hradecka and Andrea Hlavackova, who won Olympic silver in London this year.

The Czechs, who are favorites to retain their title, have never met Serbia, but the two nations' predecessors, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, met three times, with the Czechs winning them all.

The central European nation has the chance to complete a tennis double with the Czech men's team playing the Davis Cup final against Spain in two weeks' time.

Serbia, fighting for their first Fed Cup title, will be led by two former world number ones in current number 12 Ana Ivanovic and the 22nd-ranked Jankovic.

Ivanovic has a positive 3-1 head-to-head record against Kvitova, but lost to the Czech in their last encounter in the round 16 at the Australian Open this year.

Bojana Jovanovski and Aleksandra Krunic have been picked for the doubles, to be played after the reverse singles on Sunday, but there could be a last-minute change if it is decisive rubber.

The Czechs, who won five Fed Cup titles in the 1970s and 1980s as Czechoslovakia, overcame Germany and Italy on their path to the Prague finals, while Serbia beat Belgium and Russia.

A big crowd is expected at Prague's 13,800-seat O2 Arena, a venue primarily used for ice hockey.

(Reporting by Jan Lopatka; editing by Toby Davis)

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