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Fans’ guide to the 2008 Fed Cup final

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 14:56

Such is the fast-moving world of international tennis that as soon as one major event has just about been digested, another is upon us.

Last week it was Roger and Serena doing their thing at the US Open and this week its the 2008 Fed Cup showpiece between Russia and Spain.

Debate: Who will win the 2008 Fed Cup?

We like the sport’s team events here at Tennishead because they can throw up some weird and wonderful results. With crazy, flag-waving, face-painted home fans cheering them on, so-called underdogs often produce the sort of magical tennis they can only dream of on the regular tour to shock the game’s big names.

Whatever the outcome of this weekends tie, we can guarantee some real passion from the players and the Madrid crowd too. And that’s great, because we like a bit of passion at Tennishead Towers. One rule though no Mexican waves!

The lowdown…

Who?
Top seeds and defending champions Russia will take on Spain in the 2008 final, the 46th staging of the event.

What?
The Fed Cup is the biggest and most prestigious international womens team competition on the tennis calendar. Every year eight nations compete in the elite division of the event, known as the World Group, which is decided using a knock-out format. The winners of the four quarter-finals (played in February) go through to the semis and the winners from those ties (played in April) contest Septembers final. There are also eight teams that form World Group 1 and around 90 in total that compete in numerous regional groups and divisions held throughout the year all over the world.

When?
The final will be held in Madrid over two days on September 13-14. The action gets under way at 2pm local time on Saturday (12 noon GMT) and 12 noon local time on Sunday (10am GMT).

Where?
The Spaniards have chosen to host the tie at the Club de Campo Villa de Madrid on outdoor clay. Theres seating for 4,000 fans and the venue last staged Fed Cup tennis back in 1979.

Format?
The final is the best-of-five matches four singles and a doubles. Saturdays order of play will feature two singles. The reverse singles and a doubles are scheduled for Sunday.

Route to the final?
Russia began their 2008 campaign with a 4-1 victory against Israel and edged the US 3-2 in the semis, while Spain scored a 3-2 first round victory against Italy before a 4-1 thrashing of China in the last four.

Pedigree?
Its been all about the Russians of late theyre going for their fourth victory in five years, having thrashed Italy 4-0 in the 2007 final. Their record comes as no surprise considering they have five players in the womens top ten right now Elena Dementieva, Dinara Safina, Maria Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vera Zvonareva. Spain are no slouches when it comes to Fed Cup tennis either theyve landed the trophy five times, although its been a while since they last tasted victory back in 1998.

Superstars?
Well, yes, but not the ones youre thinking of. Sharapova made her Fed Cup debut for Russia in their first-round win against Israel in February, but she didnt figure in the semis and her recent shoulder problems have ruled her out of the final. Theres no Dementieva or Safina either, so the Russians will be led by Kuznetsova (WR7) and Zvonareva (WR9) with Elena Vesnina (WR61) and Ekaterina Makarova (WR58) completing captain Shamil Tarpishchevs squad. Spain will be led by Anabel Medina Garrigues (WR29) who is joined by team-mates Carla Suarez-Navarro (WR49), Nuria Llagostera Vives (WR94) and Virginia Ruano-Pascual (WR87) in captain Miguel Margets Lobatos squad.

Head to head?
Spain and Russia have met five times in Fed Cup, with Russia leading the head-to-head statistics 4-1, including a 5-0 World Group first round victory over Spain in 2007.

Predictions?
On paper, we cant see 12-time champions Russia being beaten even though theyre missing three top ten players and theyll have to take on a partisan crowd as well as the Spanish squad. Having said that, Kuznetsova isnt exactly at the top of her game right now and Spains expertise on the doubles court may play a part in swinging the tie in their favour. Pascual and Garrigues teamed up to win a silver medal at the Beijing Olympics and won the 2008 French Open too, while Navarro made the last eight of the singles at Roland Garros. Hang on, weve changed our minds Spain have a great chance!

Betting
Russia: 4-9 (Paddypower.com)
Spain: 13-8 (Paddypower.com)

Web?
If following tennis on the internet is your thing then head to the official Fed Cup website where youll find live scoring and ball-by-ball text commentary.

TV?
Yes. For details of who, where and when visit the Fed Cup website.

Radio?
You can follow the action from Madrid by tuning in to live broadcasts on Fed Cup Radio.

Tickets?
Two-day tickets start at a very reasonable 70 Euros each. Or if youve got 3000 Euros kicking around you could splash out on a private box for the whole tie. To see whats left visit the online booking agent.

Little known fact
Iceland is one of 12 nations never to have won a Fed Cup tie. Their record is by far the worst, however, having lost every one of their 30 contests over seven years.

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