Article

Czechs, Italy set up Fed Cup semi showdown

10 February 2013 20:31

The Czech Republic moved a step closer to a third successive Fed Cup title, taking a 4-0 win over Australia in their first-round tie in Ostrava.

Leading 2-0 heading into Sunday's matches, world number eight Petra Kvitova prevailed in a titanic struggle over Samantha Stosur to give her country an unassailable 3-0 lead and send them into April's semi-finals.

Kvitova eventually won 2-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 in two hours and five minutes, but had to stave off a match point for Stosur in the second set that would have kept the Australians in the tie.

The 2011 Wimbledon champion served for the match at 5-3 in the third but Stosur bravely broke back, before losing serve in the next game to the delight of the Czech fans.

Kvitova had given the Czechs a winning start to the contest on Saturday, beating Jarmila Gajdosova 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 before Lucie Safarova's 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-4) win over Stosur had the home country on the cusp of a win.

Safarova's return singles match with Gajdosova was not played, and the Czechs made the final score 4-0 when Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka accounted for Casey Dellacqua and Ashleigh Barty 6-0 7-6 (7-1) in the dead doubles rubber.

The Czechs' opponents in the semis will be Italy, who needed victory in the deciding doubles rubber to take a 3-2 win over the USA in Rimini.

Two singles wins from Varvaro Lepchenko had the US up 2-1, but Roberta Vinci's victory over Jamie Hampton set the tie up for a thrilling climax.

In the end, Australian Open champions Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani were too strong in the doubles, cruising to a 6-2 6-2 win over Lepchencko and Liezel Huber.

Russia booked their place in the semis with a 3-2 triumph over Japan in Moscow.

Ekaterina Makarova's win over Kimiko Date-Krumm levelled the contest at 2-2, and the Russian then teamed up with Elena Vesnina to romp through the doubles 6-2 6-2.

Russia will meet Slovakia in the semis, after they defeated Serbia in Nis.

Daniela Hantuchova's straight-sets win over Vesna Dolonc gave Slovakia an unassailable 3-1 lead in the tie, but it was a marathon effort from Jana Cepelova earlier in the day that had proven crucial for the visitors.

Cepelova overcame Bojana Jovanovski 5-7 7-5 11-9 in a match lasting three hours and 18 minutes to give Slovakia a 2-1 lead in the tie.

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