Tennis News Wire -
It really does look as if Petra Kvitova is back on
track. At least as long as she is dealing with Italians.
The Czechs came into Sunday's action with a 2-0 lead on Italy, and Kvitova needed very little time to finish things off, beating Francesca Schiavone 6-4 7-6. Which made it substitution time for the Czechs. They didn't even play their #3. #4 Andrea Hlavackova -- who still plays singles but makes her living playing doubles -- replaced Lucie Safarova. Interestingly, the Italians had Sara Errani play; maybe it's that she is the lowest-ranked player on the team, or maybe she was the only healthy player -- Roberta Vinci never played at all. She did finally earn the Italians a point, 2-6 6-2 6-2. They started to play the doubles, but Errani/Pennetta packed it in after 11 games against Hlavackova/Hradecka.
The Russian brain trust decided to stick with their plan of playing Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova at #1 singles against Serbia. For the second straight day, it didn't work. Ana Ivanovic beat her 3-6 6-0 6-3 to put the Serbs up 2-1. Svetlana Kuznetsova had rescued them the day before. Not this time. Jelena Jankovic finally put all her troubles behind her and posted a 6-1 6-4 victory. That gave Serbia a 3-1 lead -- and a place in the Fed Cup final for the first time.
Now they just have to find a way to get both Ivanovic and Jankovic to turn up and play like this....
The Russians did win the doubles, but without Maria Kirilenko; Pavlyuchenkova teamed with Elena Vesnina to beat Bojana Jovanovski and Aleksandra Krunic 6-4 6-0.
The final will be hosted by the Czechs; we would assume they are taking bids to try to get the fastest court surface they can possibly lay down.
The only surprise about the Belgium versus Japan tie is that the score was not 5-0. Ayumi Morita clinched after just three rubbers by beating Tamaryn Hendler 7-5 6-2. That let the Japanese substitute; Kurumi Nara replaced Kimiko Date-Krumm, and lost 7-6 6-0 to Alison van Uytvanck. Date-Krumm then came back to play the doubles with Rika Fujiwara; they beat van Uytvanck and Ysaline Bonaventure 6-2 6-4. And while this was a much-weakened Belgian team, it's worth remembering that they won't ever have Kim Clijsters again; it's going to be hard for them to get back to the World Group with no one but Yanina Wickmayer....
Interestingly, there were no substitutions in the singles in the tie between the Americans and the Ukrainians. Serena Williams clinched by beating Lesia Tsurenko 6-3 6-2 (meaning, incidentally, that she is now qualified for the Olympics. There have been complaints that she volunteered to play an easy tie -- but she played on red clay in Kharkov; she may have faced easy opponents, but the conditions weren't the most comfortable for her). Christina McHale then made it 4-0 with a 7-5 6-3 win over Elina Svitolina. Liezel Huber and Sloane Stephens then made it a sweep with a 6-4 6-1 win over the Kichenok twins.
The contest between Germany and Australia also was over after three. Andrea Petkovic finally returned to action -- but Samantha Stosur crushed her 6-4 6-1. That made it substitution time, and earned the Germans a little respect -- but not much more. Angelique Kerber beat Olivia Rogowska 6-3 6-3, and Petkovic got in some extra practice as she and Julia Goerges beat Casey Dellacqua and Jarmila Gajdosova 6-3 6-4.
They clay had delayed the inevitable between Spain and the Slovaks, but it was only a brief respite. Dominika Cibulkova put the Slovaks up 2-1 with a 6-4 6-4 win over Silvia Soler-Espinosa, and then Daniela Hantuchova, who had not been able to beat Soler-Espinosa the day before, clinched with a come-from-really-behind victory over Lourdes Dominguez Lino, 0-6 7-6 6-4. The Spanish team of Llagostera Vives/Parra Santonja won the doubles 6-0 6-7 6-3 over Rybarikova/Schmiedlova, but that was a formality.
In the World Group Playoff, Sweden pounded Britain on Saturday and just kept pounding. Sofia Arvidsson clinched by beating Laura Robson (substituting for Elena Baltacha) 6-4 1-6 6-3; Johanna Larsson made it 4-0 with a 7-6 3-6 6-4 win over Anne Keothavong. Interestingly, Baltacha came out for the doubles, teaming with Heather Watson. And the Swedes decided to substitute Ellen Allgurin and Hilda Melander. That let the British earn their one point, 7-6 6-1. But it was far too late.
The reverse singles in the Belarus versus Switzerland tie provided a shock: Stefanie Voegele beat Olga Govortsova 6-1 6-1. That was pretty well the tie, because Belarus didn't really have a #2 player (a funny thing to say about the home country of Victoria Azarenka, but it's true). Timea Bacsinszky clinched by beating Allaksandra Sasnovich 6-2 3-6 6-1. Swiss substitutes Belinda Bencic and Amra Sadikovic completed a 4-1 win by beating Belarus's substitutes Sasnovich and Darya Lebesheva 6-7 7-6 7-5.
The Slovenes never did get Polona Hercog in action -- and the result was a 5-0 sweep for France. Pauline Parmentier clinched the tie with an amazing 6-4 3-6 8-6 win over Petra Rampre, whereupon Stephanie Foretz Gacon substituted for Virginie Razzano and beat Nastja Kolar in two tiebreaks. The one surprise was in the doubles; Foretz Gacon and Kristina Mladenovic beat Rampre and Katarina Srebotnik (by far the best doubles player in the tie) 6-3 6-4.
Argentina clinched without losing as much as a set; Paula Ormaechea gave the hosts a 3-0 lead by beating China's Wang Quiang 6-4 6-2. The Chinese finally earned a point after that, as Zhou Yi-Miao beat Florencia Molinero 7-6 2-6 6-3. But the Argentines won the doubles to advance 4-1.