Serbia & Russia Tied, Czechs Lead Italians
Published April 21, 2012 12:00
The Czech Republic made a strong start against Italy while Russia and Serbia are dead even, all after Day 1 of semifinal play in Fed Cup by BNP Paribas.
In front of their home crowd in Ostrava, the Czechs stormed out to a 2-0 lead against the Italians, beginning with Lucie Safarova's 76(3) 61 win over Francesca Schiavone. Safarova saved three set points at 5-6 in the first set, won the set, then took five games in a row from 1-all in the second set.
"I served for the set at 5-4 so I really didn't want to lose that set," Safarova said. "I'm happy I turned it. It was a tough match against a great player, but I was very consistent and didn't do many mistakes. I think that put pressure on her."
In a rematch of their Australian Open quarterfinal match, Petra Kvitova once again got the upper hand on Sara Errani in the second rubber of the day, rallying from a break down in both sets to beat the feisty Italian, 64 63. Kvitova is now 24-0 on indoor courts since the start of the 2011 season.
"Sara played very well in Barcelona last week, so I'm very happy I was able to win today," Kvitova said. "I'm happy how I played - I still have space to improve, but it doesn't matter, winning was the important thing today, winning our second point of the tie. And the crowd here in Ostrava was just unbelievable."
"I had my chances today, but she closed both sets very well," Errani said. "She puts a lot of stress on you - she plays very fast, so it's hard to make the points longer, which is what I prefer. It's one or two, or maximum three balls.
"It won't be easy, but we'll fight until the last ball tomorrow."
Over in Moscow, Russia and Serbia left Day 1 tied 1-all. Jelena Jankovic won the first point for Serbia, twice rallying from a break down in the first set and doing it once more in the second set to beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 64 63. The win was even more special for Jankovic, given Pavlyuchenkova had won all three of their previous meetings - this was their first on clay courts, though.
"The game is different on clay and I prefer to play on clay," Jankovic said. "I'm very happy to get the first point for Serbia. To be honest I was very nervous, but I gave my best under the circumstances. Anastasia is a tough opponent."
Russia evened it as Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Ana Ivanovic, 62 26 64, breaking serve in the first game of the third and holding serve the rest of the way to seal victory. It was Kuznetsova's third win in their nine career meetings.
"Making the break in the third set really helped," Kuznetsova said. "At the end I didn't even know I was serving for it - I was so focused on the actual tennis, so I didn't know. And I think that was probably the key for me today!"
The reverse singles rubbers and doubles rubbers all take place Sunday.
In World Group play-off action, the US leads Ukraine 2-0 (including an easy straight set win from Serena Williams), Australia leads Germany 2-0 (with Samantha Stosur edging Angelique Kerber in a tight two-setter), Japan leads Belgium 2-0 and Spain and Slovakia are locked 1-1 after the first day of play.