OSTRAVA, Czech Republic - The Czech Republic took a huge step towards reaching its third Fed Cup final in four years thanks to straight set victories for Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova in Saturday's opening singles rubbers.
Twelve months ago, Sara Errani set Italy on its way to a 3-1 victory over the Czechs with a straight set win over Safarova on clay in Palermo. However, to the approval of a packed CEZ Arena, Safarova gained revenge in style, putting in a polished display of attacking tennis to defeat the World No.11, 64 61.
"It was a great match and I played so well, especially in the second set," Safarova said. "The crowd is amazing and I love to play at home."
Kvitova was equally impressive in the second rubber, proving too strong and too experienced for the in-form Camila Giorgi. Six days ago, Giorgi came within a point of winning her maiden WTA title, in Katowice, but, in just her second rubber in the competition, proved no match for Kvitova, going down 64 62.
Kvitova had not played since her quarterfinal defeat to Miami and was pleased with her showing, particularly with several of her friends and family in attendance.
"It's pressure every time my parents come. My dad was my coach until I was 16 so for him it's pretty tough and for me it is not easy," Kvitova said. "I am just really glad my serve was great today and I played a good match."
Italy has never come from 2-0 down to win a Fed Cup tie, but despite that statistic Czech coach Petr Pala was not taking anything for granted.
"It was a very good day for us but we have to look for another day like this tomorrow," Pala said. "Very proud of the girls' performance they played really well and I'm really glad that it all went in two sets and in our favor.
"I know it's going to be tough tomorrow so I am not going to be sleeping as well as you might think."