If this weekend’s blockbuster Fed Cup by BNP Paribas semifinal between Czech Republic and Italy goes to a live fifth doubles rubber, there can’t be many better combinations for a captain to have at his disposal than that of doubles world No. 1s Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani.
Italy captain Corrado Barazzuti once again has that luxury this weekend at the Circolo del Tennis Palermo as the hosts look to become the first team to beat the defending champions in the competition since, well, themselves back in the 2010 semifinals.
Errani and Vinci have already won three tournaments together this year, triumphing in Melbourne, Paris and Doha, but it is Vinci’s form in Fed Cup that is most striking. The 30-year-old Taranto native is undefeated in all 18 of the doubles matches she has contested in the competition and is the record holder for the most Fed Cup doubles rubbers won without defeat. So what’s the secret to her success?
“Probably my partners,” joked Vinci, whose streak includes victories alongside Errani, Maria-Elena Camerin, Giulia Casoni, Tathiana Garbin, Flavia Pennetta, Gloria Pizzichini, Mara Santangelo, Francesca Schiavone and Adriana Serra Zanetti.
“I won a lot but I don’t know the secret! I enjoy playing both singles and doubles, I have this record and I hope to continue it.”
Vinci is well aware of the scale of the task facing the three-time champions this weekend. Czech Republic has won its last seven ties in the competition, including a 4-1 trouncing of Italy in last year’s semifinals, while Czech No. 1 Petra Kvitova presents a formidable opponent having won 13 of her last 14 singles rubbers.
“Against the Czech Republic, [it will be] tough for sure,” said Vinci. “Last time we lost in the Czech Republic 4-1, but the court was quick and this time we play on a clay court in Italy. I hope [the outcome] will be different.”
As is fairly evident from Vinci’s record, the world’s premier international women’s team event is a competition that brings out the best in her.
“It’s different when you play for your nationality,” said the world No. 12. “You play with your Italian friends so I like to play Fed Cup. I have played a lot of times, I have won a lot of times and it’s a different [experience]. It’s nice to be able to play and to wear the t-shirt of your country.”