Kvitova leads Czechs to brink of Fed Cup title
By Jason Hovet
PRAGUE (Reuters) - Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova put the Czech Republic on the brink of the Fed Cup title with victories on the opening day of the final against Germany on Saturday.
The hosts roared into a 2-0 lead, leaving them requiring just one more victory on Sunday to seal their country's third victory in the Fed Cup, the premier team tournament in women's tennis, in the last four seasons.
Playing in front of a capacity 13,000 crowd at the O2 Arena in Prague, the home favorites were given a flying start when inspired Wimbledon champion Kvitova, who led the Czechs to the title in 2011 and 2012, defeated Andrea Petkovic 6-2 6-4.
Safarova then downed Angelique Kerber 6-4 6-4, prevailing after a see-saw match against the Germany's top-ranked player. It left Germany facing an uphill task to win the Cup for the first time since Steffi Graf led them to the 1992 title.
"I couldn't ask for more than to be leading after the first day. They won in straight sets, which is excellent," Czech captain Petr Pala said. "But we have to be ready again for tomorrow."
Kvitova, a winner of three titles in 2014 including a second Wimbledon crown, set the tone swiftly, gaining an early break against Petkovic and taking the first three games en route to winning the opening set.
Petkovic, though, showed fight, breaking Kvitova at the start of the second set before surrendering the advantage in the next game.
Causing Kvitova problems throughout the set, Petkovic leveled the score at 3-3 but the Czech hit a pair of deft drop shots to keep herself ahead. Continued...