Russia and Czech Republic through to Fed Cup final

Vera Zvonareva
Zvonareva now has eight wins and two defeats in Fed Cup competition

Russia thrashed defending champions Italy 5-0 in Moscow to reach their first Fed Cup final for three years.

Vera Zvonareva, who won on Saturday as did Svetlana Kuznetsova, secured an unassailable advantage with a 6-4 6-2 victory over Roberta Vinci on Sunday.

Italy, seeking a third straight title but missing Francesca Schiavone, then lost the final singles and the doubles.

In the final on 5/6 November Russia will play the Czech Republic, who beat Belgium 3-2 after the deciding doubles.

When Russia's contest with Italy resumed on Sunday, Zvonareva moved 2-0 ahead against Roberta Vinci and, though her opponent levelled at 3-3, the world number three broke in the ninth game to take the opening set in 45 minutes.

Games went with serve in the second set until the fifth, when Zvonareva moved up a gear and broke her opponent's serve twice to take the set and the match.

It was a seventh straight Fed Cup victory for Zvonareva, who was part of Russia's winning teams in 2004 and 2008.

"The desire to win here in Moscow and give my team the third point and send it to the final helped me, but also distracted my attention," the 26-year-old said. "I was in a hurry and it was difficult to concentrate."

Zvonareva said Vinci adapted her tactics after watching the Russian play in the first singles match against Sara Errani.

"She saw my match and made conclusions," Zvonareva said. "She began to slice her shots from half court and I could not play my quick game. But at 4-3 down I did everything right and it was the key moment of the match."

Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (left) with doubles partner Iveta Benesova
The Czech doubles pairing kept their composure to secure the match

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, replacing Kuznetsova for the last singles, edged out Errani 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-4) before teaming up with Ekaterina Makarova to beat Alberta Brianti and Maria-Elena Camerin 7-6 (7-3) 6-1 and complete the whitewash.

In her opening match against Errani, Zvonareva had been in total control, converting all five of her break points and winning 6-0 6-2.

Kuznetsova had been given a sterner test by Vinci, who is ranked 37 in the world. The experienced Russian won the first set easily, but was broken early in the second, eventually losing it on a tie-break.

However, Kuznetsova regained her composure and cruised through the final set, winning 6-2 6-7 (4-7) 6-1 in just under two hours.

World number four Schiavone missed the semi-final tie to concentrate on the defence of her French Open title while Flavia Pennetta, ranked 20th, was ruled out with a shoulder injury.

Vinci had little sympathy for the pair and said: "If they didn't want to come it's their problem. I don't care about Schiavone and Pennetta, they are not on this team."


The Czechs celebrated their first final since they won the title as Czechoslovakia in 1988 after losing in the semi-finals for the last two years.

After Saturday's singles matches were shared, Sunday saw a contest between the top player on each side.

The world number 18 Petra Kvitova fought back to beat Yanina Wickmayer 5-7 6-4 6-2, the Belgian world number 23's first defeat in her last 10 Fed Cup encounters.

But Kirsten Flipkens ranked 106th in the world and deputising for the injured Kim Clijsters, beat 49th-ranked Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-2 6-3 to keep Belgium in the tie.

However, Zahlavova Strycova teamed up with Iveta Benesova and they secured a break late in each set to beat Flipkens and Wickmayer 6-4 6-4 in a doubles finale lasting an hour and 10 minutes.

Kvitova's superior technique had won through against Flipkens in the opening rubber on Saturday, the Czech hitting 29 winners to her opponent's 18 in a 6-2 7-6 victory.

Wickmayer had then levelled the tie by winning a closely fought encounter with Zahlavova Strycova 6-4 6-4.

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