November 04, 2012

Article at SportsNewsFirst

Safarova steps up to win Fed Cup for Czechs

ANA Ivanovic made it interesting, but Lucie Safarova secured the Czech Republic's win over Serbia to claim back-to-back Fed Cup titles in Prague on Sunday.

ANA Ivanovic made it interesting, but Lucie Safarova secured the Czech Republic's win over Serbia to claim back-to-back Fed Cup titles in Prague on Sunday.

The Czechs were in the box seat heading into the final day after Safarova and Petra Kvitova both beat Serbia's pair of former world No. 1s Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic in the singles matches on Saturday.

Serbia came into Sunday needing to win both reverse singles matches and then the doubles to claim the first Fed Cup title for their nation to go with the men's Davis Cup win of 2010.

Ivanovic came out against the 2011 Wimbledon champion Kvitova and put in an inspired effort to record a 6-3, 7-5 win to keep Serbia alive despite the raucous home support the Czechs were receiving at the O2 Arena in Prague.

That left world No. 22 Jankovic needing to beat the 17th ranked Safarova to force the Fed Cup final of 2012 into the doubles decider, but it wasn’t to be with the left-handed Czech proving far too good winning 6-1, 6-1 to make it back-to-back Fed Cup titles for the Czech Republic.

The Czechs have now won seven Fed Cup titles, five coming as the former Czechoslovakia, moving them equal with Australia in second position and just behind the USA who has won on 17 occasions.

The Czech Republic's attention now turns to the Davis Cup at the same arena in Prague with the team led by Tomas Berdych taking on Spain starting Friday November 18.

A win in the Davis Cup would make it a dream year for the Czech Republic with Berdych and Kvitova having won the Hopman Cup in Perth to start the year and then with the Fed Cup triumph as well.

Ivanovic opened the day well for Serbia as she showed that despite not having been a genuine Grand Slam threat since winning the 2008 French Open, that at just 24 years of age she has plenty of good tennis in front her.

The Serb raced through the first set winning it 6-3 and looked set to dominate the second as well when she led 4-1 and then 5-2, but Kvitova wouldn’t lie down.

The left-handed Czech hard hitter was able win the next three games to level the set, but Ivanovic steadied to break serve and then hold her own to secure the 6-3, 7-5 for Serbia to keep the Fed Cup final alive.

Safarova was terrific on the opening day with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Ivanovic, and despite the pressure of the occasion with the home fans looking for her to secure the Fed Cup to avoid it being decided in the doubles, she was untroubled up against Jankovic winning 6-1, 6-1.

Even though Safarova played in the Czech's win over Russia last year, she lost both her singles matches to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Svetlana Kuznetsova, so she had to overcome those memories and did so in the best possible way to win the Fed Cup for her nation.

"It's just amazing here at home with this type of crowd, it's just indescribable," Safarova said.

"It really is such an amazing feeling, but it was such an important match for me because Jelena is such a great player, and always brings everything back. I think it was one of my best matches.

"In Fed Cup, it's definitely my best match and overall it is one of my best five games. We were leading 2-0 after yesterday and we had such a good two matches, but Petra was sick and wasn’t at her best today. I thought that it was my turn this time and I'm really happy that I did it."