PALERMO, Italy - The Fed Cup semifinal tie between Italy and the Czech Republic spilled into Monday due to rain but it didn't take long for it to wrap up, with Roberta Vinci beating Lucie Safarova for the decisive point in the first match of the day, pushing Italy to an insurmountable 3-1 lead.
Italy was up 2-1 in the tie when the rains fell on Sunday and upon resumption Vinci went right back to work, battling two and a half hours to get past Safarova, 63 67(2) 63. Vinci looked headed for an easier victory - after taking a routine first set she led 2-0 in the second set and even served for the match at 6-5 later in that set - but she regrouped well against the Czech to close the match out in the decider.
"This is an incredible moment, an incredible victory," Vinci said. "It was a tough match, and I was nervous, and at the end I was a little bit tired too, but I think overall I played a really good game. The crowd was really important today. But now we're in the Fed Cup final again, so I'm really happy.
"I think this is the best time in my tennis career."
Vinci was then distracted from her quote as she got soaked in water by her Italian teammates.
"It's better that was water than champagne!" she added.
Safarova was understandably disappointed. "The disappointment is very strong because I was so close today, it was just one break in the third set and it was a big fight from both sides," she said. "It was close in the third set but Roberta served very well - she served three aces in one of the games.
"It's very sad for us, but I gave my best, and I couldn't really do more on the court today."
The Czechs were the two-time defending champions. "I really enjoy the team spirit," Safarova added. "It's always fun and a pleasure to play. Hopefully more titles are waiting for us in the future."
The doubles match was not played, so Italy finished with a 3-1 victory over the Czech Republic.
The Fed Cup final - Italy against Russia - will take place later in the year, in Palermo as well.
"We're so happy we're going to be playing at home," Vinci said. "The crowd is always very important so that will be great. It's also special for me because I've played Fed Cup for such a long time."
There was another Fed Cup tie that was pushed to Monday - but it was the entire tie. After rain washed out play all weekend, Australia and Switzerland took the courts of Chiasso, Switzerland on Monday and played their entire World Group play-off tie, with the Aussies scoring a 3-1 victory over the Swiss.
"It was obviously a lot of sitting around the last two days, which nobody could do anything about," Stosur said. "It was important to get off to a good start today, and I certainly did that in my first match - I was really pleased with the way I played against Voegele. The second match was a little trickier with the way Romina plays, with the slice and the drop shots, but I think I handled it quite well."
Australian teenager Ashleigh Barty also scored a win, over Voegele. "I've been trying hard to knock on the door and get a match - I was so pleased to get called up, and to win is just a bonus," Barty said. "It's unbelievable to help win a Fed Cup tie, and to be in the World Group is even more special."
Germany, Spain and the United States completed their World Group play-off wins on the weekend.