MOSCOW, RUSSIA: Petra Kvitova survived a scare against Fed Cup by BNP Paribas veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first of the reverse singles today to hand Czech Republic a 2-1 lead.
The Czech lefthander, who went into today's match ranked world No. 2 and on the back of her year-end championships victory in Istanbul, was pushed to the limit by Russia's Kuznetsova.
Kvitova started the match poorly and her serve in particular, which was so strong yesterday, was unusually wayward.
Kuznetsova broke in the second, sixth, eighth and tenth games of the first set, the latter proving decisive, but Kvitova showed she has the mindset for the big matches and sparked a comeback in the second set to draw the scores level.
Kuznetsova took a toilet break after losing the second set and came back with a vengeance, racing to a 3-0 lead in the decisive set. But Kvitova refused to give up and, cheered on by the away support, she reeled off six games in a row to record a famous win.
As it happened...
KVITOVA WINS 46 62 63
Kuznetsova 6-4 2-6 3-6 Kvitova
She needed two match points but that's a fabulous test of Kvitova's character and she has passed with flying colours. What a match, what an atmosphere and what an intriguing finish we now have in store. The Czech wins the match with a forehand winner into the corner. A mention must be made for Kuznetsova who put up a valiant fight.
Kuznetsova* 6-4 2-6 3-5 Kvitova
Kuznetsova receives some treatment at the change of ends and Kvitova holds to love. The Russian will have to serve to stay in the match.
Kuznetsova 6-4 2-6 3-4 Kvitova*
The Russian bench have turned cheerleaders, but Kvitova's relentless hitting proves too much for Kuznetsova. The Czech earns a break point and converts it with a passing shot at the net. That's four games in a row for Kvitova. Ominous signs for Russia.
Kuznetsova* 6-4 2-6 3-3 Kvitova*
Kvitova takes a 40-0 lead with some composed play. The Czechs are on their feet. And they shout their approval as Kuznetsova nets a return to make the score a set and 3-3.
Kuznetsova 6-4 2-6 3-2 Kvitova*
Someone on the Russian bench appears to have found two dustbin lids and is banging them together. Kuznetsova comes back from 0-30 down to level the scores at 30-30 but Kvitova refuses to lie down and breaks back after HawkEye confirms her shot hit the baseline.
Kuznetsova* 6-4 2-6 3-1 Kvitova
A hold to love is just what Kvitova needs and just what she gets. The crowd are chanting "Sveta" and the Russian looks pumped.
Kuznetsova 6-4 2-6 3-0 Kvitova*
A failed drop shot attempt, a netted backhand, a volley into the net and a backhand long and it's all going a bit wrong for Kvitova. Kuznetsova looks inspired by the crowd as she takes this match by the scruff of the neck.
Kuznetsova* 6-4 2-6 2-0 Kvitova
Kuznetsova earns two break points at 15-40 but Kvitova saves the first with an overhead at the net. Kvitova nets on the second and the crowd erupts in the Olympic Stadium. Moving stuff.
Kuznetsova 6-4 2-6 1-0 Kvitova*
Kuznetsova returns from a toilet break sporting a fresh top and races out to a 40-15 lead but the Czech pulls her back to deuce with some flat groundstrokes. Kvitova nets as Kuznetsova holds. The crowd love it.
SECOND SET KVITOVA 6-2
Kuznetsova* 6-4 2-6 Kvitova
The young Czech holds her nerve and her serve to take the second set with a comeback from 15-30 down. Muted celebrations from the bench - they know there is still work to do here.
Kuznetsova 6-4 2-5 Kvitova*
An easy hold for the Russian forces Kvitova to come out from the change of ends and serve out the set.
Kuznetsova* 6-4 1-5 Kvitova
It's all going the way of the Czech now. She takes a 40-0 lead but needs all three of her points to finally close out the game. Kuznetsova will serve to stay in the set.
Kuznetsova 6-4 1-4 Kvitova*
Double break for the Czech. Kuznetsova challenges the call but HawkEye shows that Kvitova hit the baseline and she takes control of the second set here. Game. On.
Kuznetsova* 6-4 1-3 Kvitova
Kuznetsova puts the ball long at 30-30 but still finds a way to force deuce. Kvitova lets out a shriek when she earns the advantage and then a silent fist pump when she consolidates the break.
Kuznetsova 6-4 1-2 Kvitova*
There are more twists and turns in the first of the reverse singles rubbers here than in an episode of 24! Kvitova takes a 30-40 lead and converts the break point to give herself the lead in the second set.
Kuznetsova* 6-4 1-1 Kvitova
She has to hold and hold she does. Comfortably. Kuznetsova shouts in the direction of her captain but he looks unflustered - he's seen it all before.
Kuznetsova 6-4 1-0 Kvitova*
Both players miss out on chances to win the opening game of the second set here, but it is the Russian who finally manages to hold serve. The experience of Kuznetsova shining through here. Kvitova must hold if she has any chance in this match.
FIRST SET KUZNETSOVA 6-4
Kuznetsova* 6-4 Kvitova
What a game! Kvitova took a 40-0 lead and it looked like plain sailing but Kuznetsova pulled it back to deuce, saved a further game point before breaking at the second time of asking to take the first set of the third rubber here in Moscow.
Kuznetsova 5-4 Kvitova*
Three break points for Kvitova now and the Czech gets a little lucky as a net cord disrupts the flight of the ball and Kuznetsova puts it out. Anyone going to hold?
Kuznetsova* 5-3 Kvitova
The Russian is making life difficult for Kvitova on the Czech's serve. Kuznetsova has three break point opportunities at 0-40 but only needs one of them to break once again and will be serving for the first set.
Kuznetsova 4-3 Kvitova*
To her credit, Kvitova bounces straight back with two break points of her own and she converts the second when Kuznetsova nets. The ebb and flow of this match is captivating.
Kuznetsova* 4-2 Kvitova
Kvitova won Wimbledon earlier this year and she's demonstrating her prowess at the net. She takes a 30-15 lead but Kuznetsova hammers a double-handed backhand winner down the line before lobbing her opponent for a break point opportunity. The Russian nets to make the score deuce. Kvitova wastes the advantage with a wayward backhand and then tries to force an approach that leaves a gaping hole for Kuznetsova to exploit. The Russian puts the ball wide (just) but earns a third break point with another rasping winner down the line on her backhand side. The Russian converts and the crowd are on their feet. The longest game of the match so far and easily the most important.
Kuznetsova 3-2 Kvitova*
The Russian is starting to exhale after every gruelling groundstroke exchange. Surely she'll be lifted by a terrific atmosphere being created by the home crowd. She takes a 40-15 lead before a double fault ignites the crowd into more chants of "Rus-si-a". Kvitova hits wide and the Russian gets her nose in front again.
Kuznetsova* 2-2 Kvitova
Hard to believe that this is the first time these two players have met so there will be an element of working out one another's game. Kuznetsova takes a 30-15 lead with a ferocious forehand winner down the line but Kvitova wins the next two points with precision hitting to go 40-30 up. A double fault (her third) from the Czech makes it deuce and Kuznetsova gets the advantage when Kvitova puts the ball long after a baseline battle. Kuznetosva pushes her return long to level the scores once again and Kvitova manages to hold with two solid points.
Kuznetsova 2-1 Kvitova*
Solid from Kuznetsova. She's playing clever. Kvitova is being forced to go for her shots which either results in dramatic winners or frustrating mistakes. The Russian takes a 40-15 lead but Kvitova forces a deuce game. Kuznetsova earns advantage then holds with an ace.
Kuznetsova* 1-1 Kvitova
Not the best start for the Czech with a double fault but she makes amends with the next point to level the score at 15-15. Another double fault. Hmm, Kvitova's serve was her potent weapon yesterday but she's not got it going today. Kuznetsova has two break point opportunities at 15-40 and she converts at the first attempt when Kvitova puts a backhand wide. Back on level terms.
Kuznetsova 0-1 Kvitova*
Quite the atmosphere in the Olympic Stadium in Moscow as the players finished the warm-up - both sets of fans chanting and trying to outdo one another. Kuznetsova serves first but the opening point goes the way of Kvitova after the Russian fails to pick up a drop shot. Kvitova opens up a 30-0 advantage but Kuznetsova draws it back to 30-30 with some solid play. Kvitova's forehand winner down the line gives her break point opportunity at 30-40 and she takes it with another winner - this time on the backhand side.
Right, this is it folks. The players are warming up, Kvitova high fives her team-mates while Kuznetsova looks on with steely determination. Different approaches but both players will be desperate to give their side a 2-1 lead in this crucial clash.
The players emerge on court for a presentation of the Golden Achievement Award to Russia's Fed Cup captain Shamil Tarpischev. The 63-year-old is being recognised for his contribution to tennis, which has been immense. Tarpischev is also president of the Russian Tennis Federation and Davis Cup captain.
Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) - 06/11/2011
Petra Kvitova (CZE) - 06/11/2011