Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 in the first reverse singles yesterday in their Fed Cup World Group final against Russia.
The win put the Czech Republic within a point of clinching their first Fed Cup title as an independent nation after splitting from Slovakia in 1993.
LONG TIME COMING
Their last triumph came when, playing as Czechoslovakia, they beat the former Soviet Union 2-1 in the 1988 final.
In-form Kvitova fought back from 0-3 down in the final set to reel off the next six games for her 12th consecutive victory since last month’s China Open.
In the first meeting between the two players, Russia’s two-time Grand Slam winner produced some of her best tennis this year in the opening set, hitting powerful drives from behind the baseline that often left the tall Czech flat-footed.
After saving one set point, Kvitova netted a tame backhand to surrender the first set.
Kvitova, cheered on by a small but vocal band of Czech Republic supporters at Moscow’s spacious Olympic indoor arena, then raced to a 5-1 lead before sealing the second set to level the match.
Kuznetsova regained the initiative at the start of the third set, breaking the Czech left-hander in the second game to take a 3-0 lead.
However, Kvitova, who has won two titles — including the WTA Championships two weeks ago — in less than a month, was not to be denied as she found her range at the most crucial time to turn the match around.
After getting back on serve in the fifth game, the fired-up Czech, who crushed Maria Kirilenko in straight sets on Saturday, broke Kuznetsova twice more to claim her sixth successive win in Fed Cup competition this year.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who replaced Kirilenko, later beat Czech No. 2 Lucie Safarova in the second reverse singles in of day 6-2, 6-4, to tie the series at 2-2.
This meant that the series was to be decided in the fifth and final match later yesterday, which was to be a doubles match, Pavlyuchenkova and Elena Vesnina facing off against Lucie Hradecka and Kveta Peschke.
Additional reporting by staff writeriter