Saturday, 19 April 2014 20:45
PRAGUE: Lucie Safarova and Petra Kvitova handed the Czech Republic a 2-0 lead over defending champions Italy in the Fed Cup semi-finals on Saturday, keeping calm after play was halted due to a power cut.
Safarova, the world number 26 and Czech number-two, swept 11th-ranked Italian number one Sara Errani 6-4, 6-1 in an hour and 11 minutes on the hardcourt of the CEZ Arena in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava.
It took sixth-ranked Kvitova five minutes longer to see off world number 54 Camila Giorgi 6-4, 6-2 in the second rubber of the day despite action being held up for 20 minutes due to a power outage.
"I was a little nervous at the start, I made mistakes too quickly," said Safarova who let Errani take a 3-1 lead in the first set but then gave up only two games in the rest of the rubber.
"I regained my focus, I started to follow the tactic I had set before the game and then it went well," Safarova added.
Errani, a clay specialist, looked lost on the hardcourt facing Safarova's attacking spree.
"Of course I'm a bit disappointed, it was a difficult match and this surface is not easy for me," she said.
"I just tried to be more aggressive but it was really difficult and I think the match changed from 4-3 with new balls, it was a very different match."
Playing her first match after three weeks, Kvitova said she "showed quite a solid performance after such a long time."
The former Wimbledon champion broke Giorgi's serve in the very first game of the rubber and held on to hers throughout the match interrupted by the power cut halfway through the first set.
"I served well, and Camila wasn't fast enough on the fast surface," said Kvitova.
In Sunday's reverse singles, Kvitova will face Errani and Safarova will then take on Giorgi.
Klara Koukalova and Andrea Hlavackova are due to face Roberta Vinci and Karin Knapp in the doubles rubber, but the line-ups for Sunday may change.
The two teams have been taking turns as Fed Cup champions for the last five years, with Italy lifting the trophy in 2009, 2010 and 2013 and the Czechs winning in 2011 and 2012.
In the other semi-final, Germany lead Australia 2-0 after day one in Brisbane.Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014