Tue, Feb 07, 2012 - Page 19 News List

Czech Republic closer to defending Fed Cup title

FIGHTING FINISH:World No. 2 Petra Kvitova, who hasn’t lost indoors since Moscow in 2010, battled back after losing the first set to beat Sabine Lisicki

AFP, PARIS

The Czech Republic took another step toward defending their Fed Cup title after a comprehensive victory over Germany, while Russia, Serbia and Italy also progressed to the last four.

The Czechs will play the Italians, while Russia host Serbia in the semi-finals.

World No. 2 Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic underlined her standing as one of the best female players on the planet when she fought back from a set down to win the first reverse singles against Sabine Lisicki 6-7 (2/7), 6-4, 6-1.

The Wimbledon champion hasn’t lost indoors since the Moscow WTA tournament in 2010 and showed a great deal of patience on her way to her thirteenth Fed Cup singles victory and eighth in a row.

“I had trouble with my return at the beginning and it was really a long time when I know what I had to do,” the 21-year-old said. “It was in the middle of the second set, so I’m happy that I got it and I knew how I can return her serve.”

Russian tennis star Svetlana Kuznetsova put her squad into the semi-finals by beating Silvia Soler-Espinosa of Spain in a tough three-setter in Moscow.

Two-time Grand Slam winner Kuznetsova beat Soler-Espinosa 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 to give Russia an unassailable 3-1 lead.

“It’s really tough to come back into the match after you lose concentration halfway into the second set,” Kuznetsova said.

“Luckily, I managed to put my feet back on the ground in the third and win,” she said.

The opponents traded breaks early in the opening set before Kuznetsova, who has won three Fed Cups as well as the US Open and French Open titles, moved up a gear to take four consecutive games to gain a one-set lead in 40 minutes.

In the second, Kuznetsova, who is 19th in the world, broke early for a 4-1 lead, but then lost her nerve completely, allowing Soler-Espinoza to win five games in a row to level at one set all after 1 hour, 25 minutes on court.

No big serves were produced in the deciding set before the eighth game, when Kuznetsova broke again winning the set and the match on the first match ball, sealing her win with a precise forehand cross.

Italy battled past Ukraine 3-2, overcoming the withdrawal through injury of Sara Errani, while Flavia Pennetta and Roberta Vinci beat Olga Savchuk and Lesia Tsurenko 7-5, 0-6, 6-1 in the decisive doubles rubber.

Serbia also posted a 3-2 win over Belgium, Bojana Jovanovski and Aleksandra Krunic producing the goods in their match-deciding game against Yanina Wickmayer and Alyson Van Uytvanck.

The Serb duo won a hard-fought contest 7-6 (7/2), 4-6, 6-1.

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