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Pennetta battles back twice to boost Italy

ROME (Reuters) - Italian Flavia Pennetta fought back in both sets to seal a 6-4 7-5 victory over Czech Republic's Lucie Hradecka in their Fed Cup semi-final first rubber on Saturday.

Holders Italy were nervously biting their finger nails when world number 15 Pennetta went 4-1 down in the first set under grey Rome skies but powerful Hradecka soon lost her radar and the set.

It was a similar story in the next set with both players looking inconsistent on the clay before Pennetta secured the win when the Czech's lob went long.

Italy number two Francesca Schiavone takes on Lucie Safarova in the second singles match later on Saturday with the reverse singles and the doubles scheduled for Sunday.

The United States, last year's runners-up, meet Russia in the other semi-final.

(Writing by Mark Meadows; Editing by Alison Wildey)