OSTRAVA, CZECH REPUBLIC: The Czech Republic are through to a second successive final in the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas after securing an unassailable 3-0 lead over the world No. 1 nation, Italy. Petra Kvitova’s third-rubber 64 76 victory over Francesca Schiavone confirmed their progression after a ruthless display of dominance in Ostrava.
After playing in front of a Czech crowd for the first time in over two years Petr Pala couldn’t hide his pride. The horns and drums were still booming from the partisan support in the CEZ Arena when he spoke after the third rubber. He said: “I can’t be any prouder than this. Three out of three against such a strong team, I’m very proud. Francesca put up a great fight, but I believe Petra was a little better and deserved to win.”
The challenge on the day two was always going to be extremely difficult for Italy who had never overturned a 2-0 deficit in their history. That was to remain the case when the two countries’ number ones went head-to-head in the opening match of the day.
There were several breaks of serve before a tense moment at 5-4. On Kvitova’s third set point she struck what she believed to be a winner and promptly ran to her chair in celebration, but hidden under the mild euphoria from the supporters there was a call of out. They challenged and the call was confirmed so back to the baseline she trudged.
Strangely, it was Schiavone who appeared the one adversely affected as she immediately double-faulted before a wayward backhand slice gave the Wimbledon champion the opening set.
A fired up Italian looked desperate to prove a point and she consequently found a break in the fifth game of the second set with some more deep sliced returns against a Kvitova serve beginning to show signs of tension.
Anxiety got the better of Schiavone though when attempting to serve out the second set. Her serve got noticeably weaker and just like yesterday, Kvitova catapulted back some deadly returns at the most important moments to break and ultimately force the tiebreak.
This time the World No. 3 was in the zone. There was a steely determination in her eyes that suggested she was going to seize the initiative and she did so in style. At the change of ends, almost all the pressure was off after some more power hitting saw her open up a 6-0 lead. Schiavone was blown away with Kvitova clinching it on her second match point to spark delirious celebrations among the over 7,000 Czech spectators.
Petra Kvitova said “It’s an unbelievable feeling. I really wanted to be again in the final. I hope that the public that was here come to support us in the final again.” She added: “Every Fed Cup I’m playing I’m nervous. Francesca played unbelievable tennis. I’m very happy I won.”
Schiavone felt the difference was largely down Kvitova playing better at the most intense moments. She said: “When you are so close with the score, you never know. I had a lot of chances. She played better than me at these moments. She played some good points when I was serving for the set and in the tiebreak. I was close."
In the final dead rubbers Sara Errani restored some pride to the Italian side with a 26 62 62 comeback victory against Andrea Hlavackova before she was forced to retire, playing alongside Flavia Pennetta, when leading 6-5 in the first set of the doubles leaving the final score 4-1 in favour of Czech Republic.
Petr Pala is already looking forward to a home tie in November’s final against either Russia or Serbia, while his Italian counterpart Corrado Barazzutti emphasised that the fast hard courts made the telling difference. That’s a contrasting story to almost exactly two years ago. In 2010, Italy revelled on the slow clay courts in Rome to demolish the Czechs 5-0. How times change.
Captain Petr Pala (CZE) - 22/04/2012
Petra Kvitova (CZE) - 22/04/2012
Captain Corrado Barazzutti (ITA) - 22/04/2012
Francesca Schiavone (ITA) - 22/04/2012