MOSCOW, RUSSIA: World No. 2 Petra Kvitova showed why she is the woman to beat in the 2011 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Final by blowing Maria Kirilenko off the court 62 62 to hand Czech Republic the first point of this tie.
Kvitova took a little while to get into her stride but when she reeled off six straight games the momentum was well and truly in her favour.
Although Kirilenko offered some resistance in the second set there was nothing she could do to stop the tide of powerful hitting by the Wimbledon champion and the match was all but over as a contest.
The victory handed the Czechs the best possible start and lifted their already vocal away support into a state of frenzy.
As it happened...
KVITOVA WINS 62 62
Kirilenko 2-6 2-6 Kvitova
15-30 down serving for the first point of the tie, Kvitova serves big out wide and follows it up with a solid volley at the net. The Czech bullies Kirilenko with her powerful shots and earns a match point at 40-30. She fires down an ace to win the match and if today’s performance is anything to go by is going to take some stopping this weekend.
Kirlienko 2-6 2-5 Kvitova*
Nothing wrong with Kirilenko’s play in the seventh game of the second set, but the Russian still finds herself having to play exceptionally well to win every point as Kvitova is in the zone. The Czech strings together some scintillating shots to break again and will serve for the first point of the tie after the change of ends.
Kirlienko* 2-6 2-4 Kvitova
Kvitova has to work hard for her 40-15 lead in the sixth game of the second set. Kirilenko is having to play at a very high standard just to stay with the Czech, but stay she does and claws back a point before sending a backhand centimetres long of the baseline.
Kirlienko 2-6 2-3 Kvitova*
At 30-15 it looked as if Kirilenko was in control of this game, but a double fault to hand Kvitova a break point opportunity signals otherwise. The Russian saves it with an ace (challenged by Kvitova but HawkEye said it just clipped the centre service line) before a couple of errant forehands from Kvitova loses the Czech the game.
Kirlienko* 2-6 1-3 Kvitova
Kvitova holds with ease to extend her advantage in her quest for the Czech's first Fed Cup title since 1988.
Kirlienko 2-6 1-2 Kvitova*
Kirilenko stops the rot and manages to hold her serve for the first time this set. Not sure you'd call it bouncing back but she's on the right track.
Kirilenko* 2-6 0-2 Kvitova
The one-way traffic continues for Kirilenko as Kvitova holds serve for the loss of one point. If she doesn't bounce back soon this could be over very quickly indeed.
Kirilenko 2-6 0-1 Kvitova*
Another break for Kvitova and that’s five games on the trot for the Czech. She looks in total command of this match now and Kirilenko has a word with her captain at the change of ends. Not sure what he can say to change this round.
FIRST SET KVITOVA 6-2
Kirilenko* 2-6 Kvitova
Kvitova earns two set points at 40-15 and double fault on the first of them, but there's no mistake with the second opportunity as she takes the first set of the first rubber of the 2011 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Final 6-2.
Kirilenko 2-5 Kvitova*
The first deuce of the match and Kirilenko double faults on break point to hand Kvitova a double-break in the opening rubber. It’s advantage Czech Republic.
Kirilenko* 2-4 Kvitova
She's world No. 2 for a reason and Petra Kvitova is starting to show why. The Czech star is hitting the ball low and hard - very, very hard - and she consolidates her break to lead the first set of this first rubber 4 games to 2.
Kirilenko 2-3 Kvitova*
First break point opportunity for the Czech as the power of her groundstrokes seems to be taking its toll on Kirilenko. The Russian fluffs a double-handed backhand volley into the net to gift her opponent the first break of the match.
Kirilenko* 2-2 Kvitova
More solid serving from Kvitova and the Czech earns game point with an ace down the middle. She's starting to find a better length with her ground strokes too, but Kirilenko refuses to roll over - no doubt buoyed by a vocal home crowd. Kvitova picks up a half volley at the night and somehow manages to clip the line and wins the game thanks to HawkEye.
Kirilenko 2-1 Kvitova*
Kirilenko spoons a double-handed backhand long but apart from that puts in another faultles performance to hold. The Russian is not fazed at all by the world No. 2.
Kirilenko* 1-1 Kvitova
Kvitova overcomes a jittery opening start to hold comfortably for the loss of just one point. She even manages to pick up an ace with a successful challenge.
Kirilenko 1-0 Kvitova*
A ferocious opening exchange and Kirilenko races out to a 40-0 lead as she looks to calm any opening match nerves. The Russian holds to love and looks to be striking the ball beautifully.
The national anthems over with, the players are out on court and ready for the warm-up. Both are sporting headbands and very serious looks on their faces. Well, this is the Fed Cup Final after all.
It has been two-and-a-half years since these players last met and on that occasion - in the first round at 2009 Wimbledon - it was Kirilenko who triumphed 64 64.
But Kvitova comes into today's match in the form of her life having been crowned the WTA year-end champion last Sunday.
The Czech, who rose to No. 2 in the world thanks to her victory in Istanbul, is the reigning Wimbledon champion so she knows how to perform on the big stage, but it will be interesting to see how she copes with the pressure of leading her country to what she hopes will be a first Fed Cup title since 1988.
The atmosphere is starting to build inside the Olympic Stadium as the crowd takes to its seats for what is sure to be a crucial clash.
Maria Kirilenko (RUS) - 05/11/2011
Petra Kvitova (CZE) - 05/11/2011