Fed Cup final: Pavlyuchenkova keeps Russia in contention

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia levelled the scores at 2-2 in the Fed Cup final against Czech Republic, beating Lucie Safarova in straight sets on Sunday.

Updated: November 06, 2011 22:02 IST
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Moscow: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia levelled the scores at 2-2 in the Fed Cup final against Czech Republic, beating Lucie Safarova in straight sets on Sunday.

Earlier, this year's Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova lifted the Czech Republic into a 2-1 lead beating two-time Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova.

The 20-year-old Pavlyuchenkova, who substituted Maria Kirilenko in the second reverse singles rubber, won 6-2, 6-4 in 90 minutes to record her fourth win over Safarova in five meetings to keep the encounter alive and take it down to the doubles wire.

Pavlyuchenkova, who is 15th in the WTA rankings, looked very focused from the start breaking her rival's serve twice in the opening set for a 1-0 advantage after 41 minutes of playing.

In the second set Safarova fought tooth and nail but failed to level as Pavlyuchenkova broke again in the fifth game to earn a minimum lead, which she confidently kept through to send the final into the deciding fifth rubber.

Kvitova meanwhile battled back from a set down to win her first ever meeting with the 26-year-old Kuznetsova 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 in two hours 13 minutes.

"I wasn't playing my tennis in the first set making too many mistakes, while Svetlana moved and returned very well," Kvitova said.

"It was tough to come back into the match in the second set but I forced myself into playing with crosses mainly instead of my favourite flat drives."

"I the third set I was 3-0 down and I didn't think I can still win. But captain told me that I was only only one break behind. I managed to come back on Svetlana's (Kuznetsova) serve and it was a very important moment in the match."

Kvitova, fresh from her success at last week's season-ending WTA championship in Istanbul, came into the match full of confidence, starting the rubber with a break.

But the 2004 US Open and 2009 French Open champion Kuznetsova broke back immediately to level at 1-1.

The opponents continued trading breaks in the latter stages of the opening set but Kuznetsova, 19th in the WTA rankings, was the more accurate as she clinched a one-set lead in 52 minutes.

In the second Kvitova, who is currently number two in the world, moved up a gear, breaking twice to pull the scores level at one set-all after one hour 28 minutes on court, while Kuznetsova lost her nerve, producing a catalogue of unforced errors.

In the deciding set Kuznetsova broke Kvitova's serve early for a comfortable 3-0 lead.

But the Czech 21-year-old star replied positively taking six consecutive games, the set and the match to leave her squad a one point away from winning the prestigious trophy.

"She (Kvitova) began to play mauch better after she was 3-0 down in the third set," Kuznetsova said. "I was just unlucky on some points. The difference between us today was that she has played so many such matches this season, while I rarely had such intriguing matches."

"I played well today but she was just a bit better on key moments."

On Saturday, Kvitova drew first blood for the Czechs, beating Maria Kirilenko of Russia 6-2, 6-2, while Kuznetsova pulled the scores level with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Safarova.

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