Czech Republic advances to Fed Cup final

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 22, 2012
Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova used her powerful serve and forehand to clinch victory for Czech Republic over Italy in the Fed Cup semifinals and give the host a chance to defend its title. The third-ranked Kvitova overcame Francesca Schiavone 6-4, 7-6 (1) on Sunday to give the Czechs an insurmountable 3-0 lead and wrap up the best-of-the five series on an indoor hardcourt at the CEZ Arena. ''I really wanted to be in the final again,'' Kvitova said. ''It's unbelievable. It was an unbelievable feeling (to win). The Czechs beat Russia in last year's final with Kvitova winning both her singles matches. Kvitova converted her second match point with a forehand winner to improve her Fed Cup singles record to 15-4. She has won her last 10 Fed Cup singles matches. Kvitova didn't waste time in the opening set, breaking her 12th-ranked opponent to jump into a 3-0 lead before dropping her serve twice, allowing Schiavone to come back. Under pressure, the Italian saved three set points in the 10th game before netting a backhand on the fourth. ''Francesca surprised me,'' Kvitova said. ''She played long returns and I could hardly do anything with that but to rely on my serve.'' Schiavone fought hard to get back into the second, breaking Kvitova in the fifth game. But she failed to serve the set out and Kvitova dominated the resulting tiebreaker. ''It was important for me to win, it's a confidence boost,'' said Kvitova, who has played only three matches - and lost two - on the WTA Tour since she helped the Czechs beat Germany 4-1 in February. The defending champion Czechs will face last year's runner-up Russia or Serbia in November's final. In Saturday's opening singles, Lucie Safarova defeated Schiavone 7-6 (3), 6-1 before Kvitova doubled the advantage by beating Sara Errani 6-4, 6-3 to give the Czechs a commanding 2-0 lead. The remaining reverse singles between Andrea Hlavackova and Errani and the doubles can't change the overall result.
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