Czechs Win Fed Cup Cliffhanger
Published November 06, 2011 03:12
MOSCOW, Russia - The Czech Republic won the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas title for the first time as an independent nation on Sunday, overcoming host nation Russian in a nail-biter at Moscow's Olympic Stadium. With the tie locked at 2-2 after the reverse singles, Lucie Hradecka and Kveta Peschke combined to secure the critical third point in the decisive doubles.
Earlier, Petra Kvitova had put the visitors in the driver's seat with a come-from-behind three-set defeat of Svetlana Kuznetsova. The 26-year-old Russian broke Kvitova's usually dependable serve four times to pocket the first set and, despite going off the boil in the second, raced to a 3-0 lead in the decider. But for the second time this weekend Kvitova launched a six game tear that this time saw her close out the match, 46 62 63.
"My serve today maybe wasn't such a big advantage against Svetlana," admitted the world No.2, who finishes 2011 with a perfect 21-0 record indoors. "But maybe after Istanbul I had the confidence to find a way through. I'm really happy I've been able to win two matches in the final of the Fed Cup."
On Saturday, Kvitova had beaten Maria Kirilenko in the opening singles rubber so it came as no surprise when Russian captain Shamil Tarpishev tapped Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to play the fourth singles against Lucie Safarova, Kuznetsova's victim on Saturday. Ranked four places higher than Kuznetsova at No.15, 20-year-old Pavlyuchenkova - the youngest member of either squad - delivered an assured 62 64 victory to pull the hosts level.
That left Kirilenko and Vesnina - both Top 10 doubles players - to face Hradecka and Peschke, who each won their maiden Grand Slam titles at Roland Garros and Wimbledon this season, with Andrea Hlavackova and Katarina Srebotnik, respectively.
Although the Russians drew blood for 4-2 in the first set, the Czechs hit a five-game streak to steal the opener and hold serve at the start of the second set. The key breakthrough came with a break against Vesnina's serve for 3-1; she was broken again in the final game, the Czech's sealing victory on their fourth match point, 64 62.
"We feel fantastic," said veteran Peschke after the historic win. "After so many years, it's really an amazing feeling. I don't know, it's tough to describe. For me, I've been playing on this team for 13 years. I'm so proud about that, and all of the girls, and the organization - all the guys we have around us. We are so, so happy that we did it this time."
Czechoslovakia won the Fed Cup five times in the 1970s and 1980s; the Czechs and Slovaks have competed as separate nations since 1994, with Slovakia lifting the trophy in 2002. The Czechs open their defense against Germany at Stuttgart's Porsche Arena in February.