Czechs close to retaining Fed Cup title

Sat Nov 3, 2012 12:52pm EDT
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By Jan Lopatka

PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech Republic cruised to a 2-0 lead after the opening singles of the Fed Cup final against Serbia on Saturday, putting them well on course to successfully defend their title.

Petra Kvitova shrugged off a cold that forced her to retire from the WTA championships last week, beating Jelena Jankovic 6-4 6-1 in the second singles rubber to leave the hosts needing just one win from Sunday's reverse singles or doubles match.

World number eight Kvitova looked wobbly early on, going down 4-2, but she found her form to take the first set before rattling through the second.

"I did not know what to expect really at the beginning. I had a little trouble breathing, towards the end my legs were weakening and I had a headache, so I wished for the game to be over," Kvitova told reporters.

"Jankovic played very well at the beginning, I knew I had to wait for her mistakes. I did not try to go for it from the start, not to make mistakes myself."

Earlier Lucie Safarova, the world number 17, took the initiative to break Serbia's Ana Ivanovic for a 2-1 lead in the first set of the opening rubber.

Ivanovic fought back to level at 2-2 but Safarova won another break in the seventh game and went on to take the first set.

"I tried to play into her backhand, taking advantage of my left-handed play, then opening room on the forehand side. That is my favorite scenario," Safarova said.   Continued...

Czech Republic's Lucie Safarova returns a ball to Serbia's Ana Ivanovic during their final match of the Fed Cup tennis tournament in Prague November 3, 2012. REUTERS/David W Cerny