Russia knocked out of Fed Cup
Team Italy has knocked reigning champions Russia out of the Fed Cup, sealed a place in the final and will now host the main women’s international event.
After the first day of their semi-final clash with the Russia team, Italy had a commanding 2-0 lead. Thus, they needed just a single win out of three matches on Sunday.
At 2-0 down, it was do or die for Svetlana Kuznetsova, who opened the day with two reverse singles against Italy’s number one Flavia Pennetta.
However, Pennetta was unable to reproduce her Saturday’s form against the ninth best player in the world. The former US Open champion delivered when it mattered the most, clinching a convincing 6-0, 6-3 success.
17-year-old rookie Anastasia Pavluchenkova was up next against the experienced Francesca Schiavone.
The teenager took the first set to a tie-breaker but the gritty Schiavone eventually emerged victorious, nine points to seven.
However, the second set went Pavlyuchenkova's way. She made the first break in game eight, and even though Schiavone broke back immediately, the Russian prevailed 6-4.
So, it was on to a decider where Schiavone held on to the crucial points and served out a 7-6, 4-6, 6-2 victory, which lasted 2 hours 54 minutes.
Seventeen-time champions the USA will be Italy's opponents in the final, having beaten the Czech Republic 3-2 in the weekend's other semi-final in Brno.