The Fed Cup tie between Russia and Slovakia is going to start on Saturday with a clash between the world’s number nineteen, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, and the world’s number fifteen, Dominika Cibulkova.

Match: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs Dominika Cibulkova

Dominika Cibulkova

Source: karlnorling @ Flickr

Selection: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

Best Odds: 1.97 @ Pinnacle

This particular clash is likely to set the tone of the entire tie, as Maria Kirilenko looks set to defeat Daniela Hantuchova in the second match of the day and Slovakia would therefore face a huge task after a loss in the very first battle of the tie.

However, the signs are not looking that good for the visitors, as the Russian team is always very strong in home conditions and there is no doubt that Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will enjoy the setting of her match against Cibulkova. The world’s number nineteen is coming into the Fed Cup weekend on the back of a fabulous run in Monterrey, where she was able to capture the title after beating Angelique Kerber in the final match, so she will be hugely confident and that alone is something that she usually can profit from.

On the other hand, Cibulkova has gone off the boil in recent weeks, with her win over Kristina Mladenovic in Miami being the only good result. And, since she has not played since that tournament, it is virtually impossible to tell in what form she is going to turn up this week. She might be the more talented of the two, but the circumstances seem to be going against her in every single aspect right now, so it is hard to think that she deserves to be rated as the favourite against Pavlyuchenkova on Saturday. My feeling is that she probably doesn’t deserve any kind of favoritism at the moment, so going against her looks like a really good option.