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"Dangerous outsiders"

The Swiss Fed Cup team and their coaches hope to be more than just tourists in Slovakia

(Keystone)

Swiss Fed Cup trainer Zoltan Kuharszky believes his team are capable of causing an upset against Slovakia in this weekend's first round action.

Despite a number of high profile withdrawals from the Swiss team, Kuharszky insisted on the eve of the competition that Patty Schnyder and the Casanova sisters remained "dangerous outsiders" in their tie against a full-strength Slovakia.

Schnyder's recent return to form has certainly given Kuharszky some cause for optimism. At last week's tier one event in Charleston, the 24-year-old from Basel made a stunning run to the final with impressive wins over Amélie Mauresmo, Mary Pierce, Serena Williams and Jennifer Capriati.

Responsibilty

"I definitely feel an extra sense of responsibility as team leader," Schnyder (WTA 17) told the Swiss tennis association's website on Friday. "I'd certainly like to win my two singles matches and help take the pressure off the other players."

Schnyder agreed with Kuharszky that the Swiss will be outsiders against a Slovakian side that includes four top 50 players, but rated her team's chances of springing an upset as "50-50."

Casanova in form

Myriam Casanova (WTA 209) also appears to have found her form just in time for the Fed Cup tie, following her heroic performances at the WTA tournament in Budapest last week. Still aged 16, the younger of the two Casanova sisters reached the final of what was her first ever WTA tournament, a feat which saw her leap more than 140 places in the world rankings.

"Casanova is of course very inexperienced, but she has shown us that she is capable of some very good perfomances," said Kuharszky.

Gagliardi joins missing list

The Fed Cup trainer has been forced to reduce his team to just three players after Swiss number three Emmanuelle Gagliardi was forced to pull out at short notice, after contracting rubella.

Gagliardi's withdrawal means Schnyder is the only one of Switzerland's top five women's players to be competing in Bratislava.

World number four Martina Hingis has been a long-term absentee from the Fed Cup team, playing her last match in the tournament more than three years ago. Talented teenager Marie-Gaïané Mikaelian has also chosen to stay away, following a long-running dispute between her parents and the Swiss tennis association.

Swiss number five Miroslava Vavrinec also ruled herself out after sustaining a foot injury.

Fed Cup programme:

Saturday April 27:
Janette Husarova (WTA 38) v Patty Schnyder (WTA 17)
Daniela Hantuchova (WTA 14) v Myriam Casanova (WTA 209)

Sunday April 28:
Daniela Hantuchova v Patty Schnyder
Janette Husarova v Myriam Casanova
Daniela Hantuchova/Janette Husarova v Patty Schnyder/Myriam Casanova

swissinfo with agencies

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