Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci won singles matches Saturday to give Italy a commanding lead in their Fed Cup semifinal against the Czech Republic.
Errani posted a 6-4, 6-2 win over Lucie Safarova to give the Italians the first point in the matchup of the last four Fed Cup champs before Vinci earned a 6-4, 6-1 triumph over Petra Kvitova. Vinci also beat Kvitova in last week's Katowice, Poland title match.
The Czechs are the two-time defending Fed Cup champions, while Italy won the crown in 2009 and 2010. Italy also won the 2006 Fed Cup championship and was the last team to beat the Czechs, a 5-0 sweep in the 2010 semifinals. The Czechs gained a measure of revenge in last year's semifinals with a 4-1 triumph over Italy.
Errani will get the first chance to clinch the best-of-five tie for Italy on Sunday against Kvitova in the first reverse singles rubber. Vinci and Safarova are slated to meet in the second singles rubber before the doubles match pits Italian veterans Francesca Schiavone and Flavia Pennetta against the Czech duo of Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka.
The winner of this semifinal will meet either Russia or the Slovak Republic in November's final.