MOSCOW, RUSSIA: There’s nothing to separate Russia and the Czech Republic at the end of the first day’s play in the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Final in Moscow after both team’s No. 1s picked up a point each.
Petra Kvitova, the world No. 2 and year-end champion, got the final under way in impressive style after blasting Maria Kirilenko off the court in an unscrupulous fashion.
The Czech relied heavily on her serve in the opening exchanges, which was solid throughout, but soon got into her groove and found the sort of devastating groundstrokes that took her to her maiden Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in July.
Looking ahead to tomorrow, the lefthander from Fulnek said: “It really doesn't matter for me who I'm playing. I just try my best, like always, and win the second or third point tomorrow.”
Confident talk maybe, but this is a woman who is in the form of her life. Kvitova showed that she will be a match for anyone on the centre court at the Olympic Stadium with some tennis of the highest calibre during the second set, which left her opponent rather subdued.
“Right now Petra Kvitova is on top of her game,” said the Russian No. 2. “She played quite a match today. I tried my best; it just didn't work.”
With a deficit to reduce, Svetlana Kuznetsova took to the court and showed that she meant business. The three-time Fed Cup winner wasted no time in taking the first set 62 and then found herself in more of a battle during the second.
Despite looking in control for most of the match the Russian No. 1 said after the match: “I felt colossal pressure. But if I was playing that rubber in the year 2004, I think I would feel really tight and jittery. Now I have more expertise, and that expertise helped me to motivate myself and to motivate myself in the right direction.”
For Safarova it was a case of missed opportunities. In the opening game of the second set she had three game points but it was the Russian who broke at the first time of asking.
And the second set score of 63 did not reflect just how close some of the games were. Having said that, Czech captain Petr Pala thought the day had ended as predicted.
“I'm not surprised the way the score is now,” he said. “I think they all put 100 per cent in the effort, all four girls today. In some stages we could see outstanding tennis. The result came like this, and I think tomorrow is going to be much tighter until the end.”
Both teams know that whoever gets off to the best start tomorrow will force their opponent to play under immense pressure. The first of the reverse singles rubbers sees both today’s winners take to the court and if today is anything to go by, we’re in for a treat.
Maria Kirilenko (RUS) - 05/11/2011
Petra Kvitova (CZE) - 05/11/2011
Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) - 05/11/2011
Lucie Safarova (CZE) - 05/11/2011
Captain Petr Pala (CZE) - 05/11/2011