Aust aim to take down Fed Cup champs
Czech captain Petr Pala is wary of the impact a relaxed Samantha Stosur can have in this weekend's Fed Cup tie in Ostrava.
Stosur endured another miserable domestic summer campaign, crashing out in the second round of the Australian Open and losing her first match at the Sydney and Brisbane internationals.
The Queenslander will headline an Australian team also including Casey Dellacqua, Jarmila Gajdosova and Ashleigh Barty in the World Group first-round tie against the two-time defending Fed Cup champions.
"I think Samantha Stosur, when she plays in Australia, she's under pressure and everyone expects her to win, which is very difficult to deal with," Pala said.
"She's a great Fed Cup player, hasn't lost last year and she's not going to be under pressure for this tie much.
"I think she's going to be playing better than she played at the beginning of the year."
Stosur said the Australian team were excited by the appointment of Alicia Molik as captain, having replaced Stosur's personal coach David Taylor.
"Obviously it's a little bit different for her - she's never done this before - and a big change for the rest of the team, but it's going really well so far and I'm sure we can have success with Alicia," said Stosur.
"Obviously she doesn't have as much coaching experience as what Dave does, but I'm sure she's learning and we're really excited to have her here."
Australia will start as underdogs in the February 9-10 tie against a powerhouse Czech team headed by world No.8 Petra Kvitova who, like Stosur, struggled in the first grand slam tournament of the year.
Pala said his team of Kvitova, Lucie Safarova, Lucie Hradecka and Andrea Hlavackova would be the ones feeling the pressure.
"It's never easy after winning - everyone is expecting you to win again.
"It's not easy, we are facing a great team from Australia and we have to be really ready for it on the weekend."
The two nations have not met in the Fed Cup since 1992 and the Czech team lead the head-to-head 4-3.
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