Ostrava, Czech Republic – Petra Kvitova beat Francesca Schiavone in a battle of former Grand Slam champions to send the Czech Republic into the Fed Cup final for the second straight year.
Kvitova, the reigning Wimbledon champ, earned a 6-4, 7-6 (7-1) victory over Schiavone, the 2010 French Open winner, to give the Czechs an insurmountable 3-0 lead over Italy in the best-of-five tie.
The Czechs won their first Fed Cup championship last year, beating Russia in the final. The Russians could be the opponent again in November, but they'll have to beat Serbia in this weekend's other semifinal.
"It's an unbelievable feeling," said Kvitova. "I really wanted to be in the final again."
Kvitova took control early in the match by winning the first three games, but Schiavone rallied with the next four games. Kvitova, after having her serve broken twice, regrouped and broke back for 4-4 before also capturing the next two games to win the opening set.
Schiavone secured an early break in the second set and was serving to force a decisive third with a 5-4 lead, but Kvitova won the 10th game and the set went to a tiebreak, which the Czech dominated. She won the first six points before finishing it on her second match point to set off a wild celebration.
"Every Fed Cup I'm playing I'm nervous," Kvitova remarked. "Francesca played unbelievable tennis. I'm very happy I won."
Kvitova won both of her singles rubbers this weekend, topping Sara Errani in the second of Saturday's opening matches, 6-4, 6-3. Lucie Safarova had given the Czechs the early advantage Saturday with a 7-6 (7-3), 6-1 victory over Schiavone.
The Czechs gained a measure of revenge for a 5-0 loss to Italy in the 2010 Fed Cup semifinals. The Italians went on to win their second straight championship that year.
Italy still owns a 4-2 lead in the overall series.