(November 4, 2012) -- The Czech Republic, led by Lucie Safarova, held off Serbia to defend their title as Fed Cup champions at the 02 Arena in Prague.
Down 0-2 after the first day, Serbia pinned their hopes on Ana Ivanovic to keep them alive in the tie as she faced Petra Kvitova in the first reverse singles rubber today. After both players held their serves early on in the first set despite some nervy points, it was Ivanovic who earned the first break of serve when Kvitova hit long down break point.
Ivanovic held on to her advantage and after missing out on her first six set points, she finally consolidated the set 6-3.
Ivanovic leapt out to a 4-1 lead in the second set and served for the match at 5-2. But Kvitova refused to go away and broke the Serbian's serve that allowed Kvitova to charge back and pull even for 5-all. Ivanovic managed to hold serve in the next game and that forced Kvitova to try and hold serve herself to stay in the match. But Kvitova's game went awry setting up three match points for Ivanovic who hit a final winning forehand to clinch a 6-3, 7-5 victory and thus keeping Serbia very much alive in the finals.
Safarova Dominates Jankovic to Secure Czech Victory
The pressure then fell onto Fed Cup veteran Jelena Jankovic as she squared off against Lucie Safarova in the next singles match. Jankovic said yesterday she still believed a comeback by Serbia was possible, but when Safarova broke Jankovic's serve to start the match, it soon became clear that this wasn't meant to be Serbia's day. Safarova fought off a break point midway through the set to race out to a 4-0 lead. Jankovic got on the board but it wasn't enough to stop Safarova from closing out the set 6-1.
Down an early break in the second set, Jankovic called for the trainer to deal with a lower back issue. The pause in action didn't halt Safarova's momentum as she once again dominated play especially with her forehand that allowed her to break Jankovic a second time. Serving for the match and the title up 5-1, Safarova, didn't blink as she hit one more forehand winner to close out the match 6-1, 6-1 and with it earn the Czech Republic's seventh Fed Cup title.
The Czechs are now tied with Australia for having won the most ever Fed Cup titles in the event's history.
“Here at home in this type of crowd, it’s indescribable, it’s an amazing feeling,” said Safarova afterwards on FedCup.com. “There are so many emotions and happiness and that is the feeling we are practicing for every day, even if you’re not in the mood to work."
Captain Petr Pala also thanked the 13,000 plus home crowd on hand each day for their support.
“It’s phenomenal,” he said. “The crowd is amazing, they deserve it too.”
(Photo Credit: Paul Zimmer/Srdjan Stevanovic)