PRAGUE (Reuters) – American Nicole Melichar expects to have mixed feelings when she makes her Fed Cup debut in this weekend’s final against the Czech Republic – the country of her birth.
Melichar is one of three Americans playing in their first Fed Cup tie for the defending champions, who are having to field a second string team with Serena and Venus Williams unavailable along with Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys.
Born in Brno but raised in the United States, Melichar said it was a special feeling to face the country her parents hailed from.
“I am very proud to be representing the USA,” Melichar said as she prepared to face the Czechs, who have won the team competition five times since 2011.
“It is an honour to actually play against the country that I am originally from but to play for the country that I feel that I am from.
“It is a little bit of a mix, but it is, I think, the most special way to start my Fed Cup career.”
Ranked 15th in the world in doubles, Melichar won titles in Tianjin and Prague this year with Czech partner Kveta Peschke.
They also finished runner up at Wimbledon, losing to Czech duo Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova – both of whom will feature for the hosts this weekend along with Petra Kvitova.
Melichar said her Czech background was another source of fun for the team during the final.
“I have tried to teach them a few words here and there, and to translate a few things,” she said.
Danielle Collins and Sofia Kenin are the other two Americans making their debut in Prague, while Alison Riske has featured in three previous ties.
(Reporting by Jason Hovet, editing by Pritha Sarkar)