Czechs clinch Fed Cup title
A Petra Kvitova-inspired performance led the Czech Republic to their first Fed Cup victory since becoming an independent nation in 1993
The Czechs, who last won the title as Czechoslovakia in 1988, captured the win in dramatic fashion with a tense 3-2 win over Russia at the Olympic Stadium in Moscow.
The final day of play went down to the wire and it was left to the experienced doubles pair of Lucie Hradecka and Kveta Peschke to clinch the title for the Czechs as they saw off the Russian duo of Maria Kirilenko and Elena Vesnina 6-4 6-2.
"I'm glad that we won it, and it's a great feeling. We really want to enjoy it today. I think all the girls and myself and the whole team, you know, it's an unbelievable feeling," said Petr Pala, the Czech captain.
The teams were left deadlocked at 1-1 after day one with Kvitova and Svetlana Kuznetsova trading comfortable wins over Maria Kirilenko and Lucie Safarova respectively.
The teams’ two heavyweights then came head to head Sunday morning with world No.2 Kvitova facing off against two-time Grand Slam champ Kuznetsova. The Russian, buoyed by a partisan home crowd, jumped into an early lead capturing the first set 6-4 before Kvitova fired back taking the second 6-2.
Facing down the barrel of defeat, Kvitova, who has gone the whole season unbeaten in Fed Cup and on indoor courts, drew on all her resolve to come back from 0-3 down in the decider to win it 6-3.
“When I had three-love down I didn't think that I can still win,” Kvitova said. “My captain told me, it's only one break and it gave me energy to fight back. It was a very important game for me.”
The decision by Russian captain Shamil Tarpishchev to replace Kirilenko with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the second reverse rubber turned out to be a good one when the 20 year old defeated Safarova 6-2 6-4 to level the tie 2-2. This set up the dramatic doubles decider but there was little the Russians could do against the powerful Hradecka and the instinctive net play of 36-year-old Peschke.
The Fed Cup title marks an incredible end to the season for Kvitova, who picked up six titles in 2011, including Wimbledon, while also jumping 32 spots in the world rankings.