Article

Czechs shoot clear in Ostrava

9 February 2013 21:28

Champions Czech Republic got their Fed Cup defence off to the perfect start, as they lead 2-0 in their World Group tie versus Australia.

Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova charged the hosts in Ostrava to a dominant lead, with former Wimbledon champion Kvitova accounting for Jarmila Gajdosova 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 before Safarova edged Australian number one Sam Stosur 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-4).

Stosur had led 4-1 in the first set in the hope of drawing Alicia Molik's side level in the second rubber, but big-serving lefty Safarova reeled in the world number nine to win in straight sets.

The Australian had two set points in the tie-breaker but, when serving at 5-6, she double-faulted to hand Safarova a lifeline and some momentum.

All the remaining three World Group ties are delicately poised at 1-1 after the opening day.

The United States, minus top-20 stars Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens, were not expected to be competitive against Italy in Rimini, but Varvara Lepchenko caused an upset when she beat Roberta Vinci.

There is only five rankings spots between the pair, but on clay, Vinci was tipped to put the Italians 2-0 up after Sara Errani thrashed Jamie Hampton 6-2 6-1.

But left-hander Lepchenko edged Vinci 2-6 6-4 7-5 to give the Americans hope of an upset win on Sunday.

Meanwhile in Moscow, Japan fought back to eyeball Russia courtesy of a big upset to Ayumi Morita.

Morita, ranked 57th, saw off Ekaterina Makarova 6-2 6-2, to offset veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm's 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 loss to Maria Kirilenko earlier.

The Slovak Republic were cruelly denied a 2-0 lead over a weakened Serbia side in Nis, when Dominika Cibulkova was forced to retire when within one game winning her singles rubber.

Daniela Hantuchova had earlier seen off Bojana Jovanovski 7-5 6-2, before Cibulkova was leading Vesna Dolonc 6-4 5-4.

But a calf complaint that arose when the Slovak world number 15 was serving for the match at 5-3 restricted her from finishing off the match, handing an unexpected lifeline to the Serbs, who are minus Ana Ivanovic for the tie.

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