Jelena Jankovic steered Serbia into their first Fed Cup final when she thrashed Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1 6-4 in the second reverse singles, on Sunday.
Jankovic’s win gave the visitors an insurmountable 3-1 lead against Russia in their semi-final, played on a red clay court laid on top of the ice rink at Moscow’s Megasport arena.
Earlier, Ana Ivanovic dispatched Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 3-6, 6-0, 6-3, to put the Serbs ahead 2-1. “I still cannot believe that we are in the Fed Cup final,” an emotional Jankovic told reporters.
“I well remember the times when we were still playing in the lower divisions and were only dreaming of playing for the Fed Cup trophy,” the former world No. 1 said.
In the November final, Serbia will face last year’s winners, the Czech Republic, who beat Italy 4-1 in the other semi-final.
Looking ahead to the final Jankovic said: “It’s going to be another tough tie. The Czechs have a great team, but I think after today’s victory we are capable of beating anyone now.”
Two-time Grand Slam winner Kuznetsova struggled to explain her sub-par performance.
“I am still trying to figure out what went wrong today,” said the former world No. 2, who has slipped to No. 27 after struggling to regain her top form this season.
“One thing’s for sure, my opponent played very good today,” she added.
The Russian duo of Pavlyuchenkova and Elena Vesnina then beat Bojana Jovanovski and Aleksandra Krunic 6-4 6-0 in the dead doubles rubber to make the final score 3-2.
The two teams were tied at 1-1 after Saturday’s singles matches when Jankovic beat Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 6-3 before Kuznetsova leveled the two-day tie by outlasting Ivanovic 6-2, 2-6, 6-3.