Fed Cup Final Poised After Day One
Published November 05, 2011 02:48
MOSCOW, Russia - As many expected, the final of the 2011 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas between Russia and the Czech Republic is delicately balanced after the first day of play at Moscow's Olympic Stadium.
The opening rubber saw new world No.2 Petra Kvitova continue her imperious form indoors as she breezed past Maria Kirilenko to secure the morale-boosting first point for the visitors. From 2-2 in the first set the 21-year-old lefty embarked on a six-game tear; while Kirilenko fought gamely to get back on the board, she could not hurt her more powerful opponent. Kvitova closed it out with her fourth ace, 62 62.
"Right now Petra Kvitova is on top of her game," said Kirilenko. "She played quite a match today. I tried my best... it just didn't work."
That result left Svetlana Kuznetsova, currently the nation's No.4 but playing in the No.1 slot this weekend, to boost the Russians' fortunes. The three-time Fed Cup winner, currently ranked 19th, rose to the challenge brilliantly to defeat world No.24 Lucie Safarova.
Kuznetsova raced to a 4-0 lead in the opener, and although eventually Safarova got on the scoreboard with two service holds, held her own deliveries to take a one set lead. The pair exchanged breaks at the start of the second set but it was the Russian who again stole the momentum, breaking twice more on her way to a 62 63 win.
"I felt colossal pressure," admitted 26-year-old Kuznetsova after the match. "But if I was playing that rubber in the year 2004, I think I would feel really tight and jittery. Now I have more expertise, and that expertise helped me to motivate myself and to motivate myself in the right direction."
Kuznetsova and Kvitova are slated to meet in the first of Sunday's first reverse singles. Surprisingly, it will be their first encounter. Kirilenko leads Safarova 4-1 in their head-to-head, although the team captains may yet substitute for the fourth rubber. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is on the benches for the Russians, Lucie Hradecka for the Czechs.
"It really doesn't matter for me who I'm playing," said Kvitova. "I just try my best, like always, and aim, to win another point for the team tomorrow."