Schiavone looks for repeat success
Francesca Schiavone, along with Flavia Pennetta, was the main catalyst to Italy winning the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas title back in November.
Schiavone, who made her Fed Cup debut in 2002 and has since compiled a 20-13 winning record, seems to reserve her best tennis for the annual team competition.
In 2009, she was unbeaten in Fed Cup play, including an impressive victory over Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova, the reigning Roland Garros champion, in the semifinals.
Schiavone knows, however, that it will be hard for Italy to retain the trophy in 2010 – not least because Corrado Barazzutti’s team faces a difficult trip to Ukraine in the first round, being played in Kharkiv on 6-7 February.
“It’s tough because we play the first round against a big team like Bondarenko, Bondarenko,” said Schiavone, referring to the Ukrainian sisters, Alona and Kateryna, who are both currently ranked inside the world’s Top 35.
“We have to pay attention and play very good, at a very high level. They play at home, that’s a good step for them. We are 50/50. We have to stay focussed and enjoy our play like we did all the year last year.”
Italy defeated USA 4-0 in last year’s Final, with Schiavone overcoming Melanie Oudin on the opening day. The next night, players and fans joined together to celebrate the country’s second title in three years.
“We had a big party and every one was drunk, so I don’t remember much,” joked Schiavone.
“It was a big moment for Italy, a big moment for me, Flavia, Roberta and Sara. We are a great team.”
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