STUTTGART, Germany -- Three straight-set singles victories over the last two days were all it took to send the Czech Republic into their sixth Fed Cup final in the last eight years.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova put on a dominant display in the fourth rubber of the tie to dispatch former World No.1 Angelique Kerber, 6-2, 6-2, and clinch the tie over Germany 3-1 on the indoor clay in the Porsche Arena in Stuttgart, Germany.
Kvitova had 31 winners in the match, outpacing her 22 unforced errors, and the Czech won 74 percent of points off of her opponent's second serve. Kerber, meanwhile, had 23 unforced errors in the tilt -- one more than Kvitova -- and could only manage seven winners on the day.
“I didn’t really expect (this level),” Kvitova said afterwards, according to fedcup.com. “From the beginning I was dominating on the court most of the time. That made it easier. To keep that level against great players is not easy… but I did it. And I’m happy for it.”
“With this (loud) crowd you have to stay calm," Kvitova continued. "Today the German fans were supporting (their players) louder than before, which from my point of view is great. It was a nice atmosphere on court. I stayed calm for every point.”
Earlier, Julia Goerges had kept Germany alive in the tie with a 6-4, 6-2 upset of Karolina Pliskova in the third rubber, but that just delayed the inevitable, as Kvitova cruised past Kerber in just 58 minutes to put her squad into the championship weekend in November.
Kvitova pulled off a stunning first set, dominating with her vaunted forehand whenever she got her teeth into a rally. The Czech star got her massive first serve into play 66 percent of the time and was 6-for-6 at the net in the opening frame.
The Czech took an early 2-0 lead in the match behind a winning forehand volley, but Kerber quickly got back on serve in the next game. However, that would be the only time Kerber could get a handle on Kvitova's serve in the first set, and the German quickly lost her advantage once more, falling behind 3-1, as Kvitova cracked powerful service returns.
The players settled on serve through 5-2, and, after falling behind 0-30, Kerber reached game point, trying to force Kvitova to serve out the set. But, after clawing back to deuce, Kvitova held a set point after a drop shot winner. Kerber saved that with an ace, but after two more deuces, a double fault gave Kvitova a second set point, which she converted when a huge return forced a forehand error.
It was more of the same in the second set, as Kvitova sprinkled seven aces throughout the match to leave Kerber very few chances to find openings in any of the Czech's service games. Kvitova never faced a break point during the second set.
With Kerber serving down break point at 2-3, another bludgeoned service return by Kvitova forced an error into the net by the German, handing a critical break to the Czechs. After more power hitting by Kvitova pushed her to 5-2, Kerber could not rebound, and a wide backhand by the German on match point sent the Czechs into another World Group championship final.
Kvitova's powerful play overshadowed a divine showing by Goerges in the preceding match, as the World No.11 took down former World No.1 Pliskova in 56 minutes, giving new life to the Germans after they had fallen behind 0-2 after the first day of play.
Goerges never faced a break point during the entire match, and won a staggering 92 percent of points behind her first serve during the encounter. Even though she could only claim a single break in the opening set, behind the nearly perfect serving she exhibited, it was more than enough to ease to a 6-4 lead.
A shaken Pliskova then dropped serve in the opening game of the second set, and Goerges rolled from there, winning all ten of her first service points in a masterful second set. The big-hitting German had 26 winners in the match, to only 18 unforced errors, and rolled to victory in under an hour.