PRAGUE, Czech Republic - The Czech Republic took a huge step towards reclaiming their Fed Cup by BNP Paribas crown on Saturday after Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova won the opening two singles rubbers in the final against Serbia.
In the competition's 50-year history, no team has ever overcome a 2-0 deficit to lift the trophy and the Czech's imperious opening day performance suggests this record is likely to be safe for another year.
Safarova got the home side off to the perfect start, securing a surprisingly easy 64 63 win over World No.12 Ana Ivanovic. Inspired by a 13,000-strong crowd inside the Czech capital's O2 Arena, Safarova married her usual eye-catching shotmaking with a hitherto unseen level of consistency.
The mix proved too much for Ivanovic, who did not help her cause with a nervy display that included 32 unforced errors.
"It's hard because you feel like you create chances then you just miss and your opponent plays a good shot and it's very, very hard," Ivanovic said after the match. "It makes you go for more and then you make a mistake and then it's frustrating again.
"I really tried to keep myself focused on each point, but it was tough at some moments. She played aggressive and she made shots."
Serbian No.2 Jelena Jankovic encountered similar problems against Kvitova, who, despite only returning to practice on Thursday after being sidelined for a week with a viral illness, was in typically destructive mood.
Over the past few years, Kvitova has played much of her best tennis in red, white and blue, winning her last 10 Fed Cup singles rubbers. And after a slow start it was business as usual for the Czech No.1, who thanks to 28 winners and a run of nine straight games, turned a 4-2 first set deficit into a 64 61 victory.
"Unbelievable," Kvitova said of her perfomance. "Actually, I was surprised by how I played. I didn't know what I could expect from myself on the court.
"When I was down 4-2 I had a great service game and I was quite angry, but the good angry! Jelena played so well, she wasn't making any mistakes before, so I knew that I had to wait for my chances and just try and stay aggressive."
Sunday will see Kvitova back on court against Ivanovic in the first reverse singles rubber, before Safarova takes on Jankovic and then, if the tie is still alive, the doubles.
"It has been a long time since we have been in this position, 2-0 after the first day," Jankovic said. "It's not an easy situation for us but we have to stay positive. The tie is not over until the last point is won so we go one step at a time and maybe tomorrow is our day."