PRAGUE (Reuters) - Defending champions Czech Republic will bid for a third straight Fed Cup final appearance in April without the firepower of its top players Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova.
The Czechs have won the premier women's team event the last two years and four times since 2011 thanks to the strength of the ace duo.
The team takes on Switzerland in Lucerne in a semi-final on April 16-17 but will be without the pair, after they agreed with team captain Petr Pala that they would sit out this stage.
"Lucie and Petra confirmed to me that if the team reached the finals, they will be ready to play," CTK news agency cited Pala as saying.
World number seven Kvitova and Safarova, 15th in the rankings, will leave the chance of another title defense to teammates, including last year's hero Karolina Pliskova.
Pliskova, ranked 14th in the world after cracking the top 10 last year, had her best showing of 2016 this month at Indian Wells, where she ended up losing in the semi-finals to eventual champion Victoria Azarenka.
(Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by Tom Heneghan)