Serbia Defeats Russia, Makes Fed Cup Final
Published April 22, 2012 12:00
Serbia put the finishing touches on an historic weekend Sunday, with Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic winning their reverse singles rubbers to put Serbia into the Fed Cup final for the very first time. The Czechs are up next.
With the tie locked at 1-all after Saturday's matches, Ivanovic avenged her previous day's loss in the first reverse singles rubber on Sunday, rallying from a set down to beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 36 60 63. Pavlyuchenkova won the first five games of the match, but Ivanovic got three games in a row before surrendering the set; having found her range, she then won 10 straight games to win the second set at love and go up 4-0 in the third, then holding on.
"I didn't have a great night of sleep last night. I felt a lot of pressure after what happened yesterday," Ivanovic said. "I was a little bit tense in the beginning of the match against Anastasia. She was hardly missing a ball and every shot was a winner. I just thought, 'Just find your rhythm, this set is gone.'
"I stayed composed and started playing more aggressively and it worked."
"Ana did a great job in the second and third set. She was playing better and better," Pavlyuchenkova said afterwards. "In the third set I still believed I could turn the match around - it was getting closer and closer and I was just fighting for every point, but she managed to close it out, so all credit to her."
Jankovic gave Serbia its winning third point with a 61 64 win over Svetlana Kuznetsova, rolling through the first set then rallying from 3-0 down to take the second set and send her nation into its first ever Fed Cup final.
"I have goosebumps because it's so exciting for us," Jankovic said after the match. "We've come a long way. I remember those days we would play in the lower groups, so it's so exciting for us to be in the final and playing for the trophy. I'm very proud of our team and everyone who has helped us."
The final score was 3-2 for Serbia after Russia won the doubles rubber.
In the other semifinal the Czech Republic went into Sunday's play with a 2-0 lead over Italy, and Petra Kvitova sealed the victory in the third rubber with a 64 76(1) win over Francesca Schiavone. Schiavone had some strong form throughout the match - she won four games in a row at one point in the first set, and also led 5-3 in the second - but Kvitova was just too tough, and improved her indoor winning streak to an impressive 25 matches in a row.
"Francesca played unbelievable tennis," Kvitova said. "Every Fed Cup I'm playing I'm nervous, so I'm really happy to win today. It's an unbelievable feeling - I really wanted to be in the final again. The crowd was great, and I hope everyone who came to support us this weekend comes to the final too."
"I had a lot of chances, but she played so well in those moments," Schiavone said. "She played some good points when I was serving for the set and in the tie-break as well. When you're so close with the score, you never know."
The final score was 4-1 for Italy, with Sara Errani winning the other reverse singles rubber but the Czech Republic winning the doubles rubber.
The US, Australia, Slovakia and Japan all won World Group play-off ties to secure their spots in next year's World Group. Of particular note in those ties were Top 10 players Serena Williams and Samantha Stosur: Williams led the Americans to a 5-0 victory over Ukraine, winning both of her singles rubbers in straight sets, while Stosur led the Australians to a 3-2 victory over Germany, also winning both of her rubbers in straights, and against Top 20 players.
France, Switzerland, Sweden and Argentina won World Group II play-off ties.