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Rediff.com  » Sports » Pavlyuchenkova puts Russia level in Fed final

Pavlyuchenkova puts Russia level in Fed final

November 06, 2011 23:00 IST

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova overpowered Lucie Safarova 6-2, 6-4 in the second reverse singles to pull Russia level with the Czech Republic at 2-2 in their Fed Cup final on Sunday.

The 15th-ranked Pavlyuchenkova, who replaced Maria Kirilenko after the latter's straight-set loss to Petra Kvitova on Saturday, was just too strong for the Czech number two and set up a doubles decider for the title later on Sunday.

Earlier, Wimbledon champion Kvitova beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 in the first match of the day to put the Czechs within a point of clinching their first Fed Cup title as an independent nation after splitting from Slovakia in 1993.

Their last triumph came when, playing as Czechoslovakia, they beat the former Soviet Union 2-1 in the 1988 final.

In-form Kvitova fought back from 0-3 down in the final set to reel off the next six games for her 12th consecutive victory since last month's China Open.

PavlyuchenkovaThe world number two also went undefeated indoors for the whole year, recording her 21st victory this season.

In the first meeting between the two players, Russia's two-time grand slam winner produced some of her best tennis this year in the opening set, hitting powerful drives from behind the baseline that often left the tall Czech flat-footed.

After saving one set point, Kvitova netted a tame backhand to surrender the first set.

VOCAL CZECHS

In the second, Kvitova, cheered on by a small but vocal band of Czech supporters at Moscow's spacious Olympic indoor arena, raced to a 5-1 lead before sealing the set to level the match.

Kuznetsova, however, regained the initiative at the start of the third set, breaking the Czech left-hander in the second game to take a 3-0 lead.

But Kvitova, who has won two titles including last week's WTA Championships in less than a month, was not to be denied as she found her range at the most crucial time to turn the match around.

After getting back on serve in the fifth game, the fired-up Czech broke Kuznetsova twice more to claim her sixth successive win in Fed Cup competition this year.

Kvitova said she lost concentration before the start of the third set when she waited for Kuznetsova to take her toilet break.

"I think I was not (mentally) on the court at that point," she told reporters.

"I didn't believe I could win the match trailing 0-3 in the third, but my captain (Petr Pala) told me that it was only one break and it gave me energy to fight back."

Kuznetsova was gracious in defeat.

"She just raised her game from 0-3 down," said the Russian, who has slipped to number 19 in the world after an inconsistent season.

"She started to serve better and was hitting the lines a lot. I was also unlucky on a couple of points and it was tough to fight back."

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