Italy stormed out to a 2-0 lead against the Czech Republic on Day 1 of the Fed Cup semifinals, with Sara Errani beating Lucie Safarova and Roberta Vinci beating Petra Kvitova - again.
WTA Staff

PALERMO, Italy - Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci gave Italy a commanding 2-0 lead against the Czech Republic on Saturday and are now just one win away from moving through to the final of Fed Cup.

The first match of the semifinal tie saw Errani take on Lucie Safarova, and it was a little bit of a revenge mission - Errani had lost to Safarova in their only previous meeting, though it was a few years back. But the Italian was a wall this time, winning a tight 47-minute first set then reeling off the first four games of the second set to take complete control against the Czech, eventually closing out a 64 62 victory.

"She's not an easy player to play - she's left-handed, and sometimes you don't expect her to hit so strong," Errani said. "But I just tried to concentrate hard and I'm happy to win the point today."

"The clay is really slow here and Sara's such a good defender, so it's really hard to hit a winner from any position," Safarova said afterwards. "I was playing with a lot of risk - I had to - and while I would have been making the points against many other players, she's right there and gets every ball back.

"I don't think I played badly today, but it's her surface and her day."

The second match of the semifinal tie was a potential blockbuster, a rematch of the Katowice final from six days ago, and the end result was the same as Vinci took out Petra Kvitova, 64 61. Kvitova was up a break at 3-2 in the first set but Vinci completely took over from there, winning 10 of the next 12 games for the runaway straight set victory - it was also the 10th Top 10 win of the Italian's career.

"I was nervous - it's difficult to play against Petra, and of course the Italian crowd is fantastic but I was nervous playing at home too," Vinci said. "It was a tough match, but I'm happy to have won a great match. It was almost the same as last week. I practice here in Palermo, so it's just incredible."

"We were both very nervous at the beginning," Kvitova said. "I had some chances - I broke her, and I just had to keep my serve - but I didn't make it. That was the problem in the first set, and from there it was difficult to come back. It was obviously a tough match, playing Vinci on the clay at home.

"She gets so many balls back and we play a lot of rallies, and I don't think I was ready for it."

Sunday's reverse singles will begin with Errani facing Kvitova, followed by Vinci facing Safarova.

Kvitova leads Errani in their head-to-head series, 4-0.

"I've been winning against her but we've never played on clay, so it'll be difficult," Kvitova said. "I hope I can just cancel today's match in my mind and have a free mind to play against Errani tomorrow."

Vinci leads Safarova in their head-to-head series, 2-1.