Holders Italy cruise to victory over Australia
Italy made an emphatic start to the defence of their Federation Cup title with a comfortable 4-1 victory over Australia in their quarter-final tie in Hobart yesterday.
Flavia Pennetta extended her winning streak in the competition to 10 matches with a 6-3, 6-2 triumph over Jarmila Groth.
That followed world number four Francesca Schiavone’s 7-6 (7/1), 3-6, 7-5 win over fifth-ranked Samantha Stosur in the day’s first reverse singles rubber.
Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani saved two match points to fight back and beat the Australian combination of Rennae Stubbs and Anastasia Rodionova, 2-6, 7-6 (7/1), 6-4 in the dead doubles rubber for Italy’s fourth point of the tie.
“We are really happy about this match (result). It was really tough for everyone in the team,” an ela-ted Pennetta said.
“We’re both really good teams. We can play singles, doubles, you can do whatever you want with our four and also with the Australians.”
Groth registered a fighting 6-7 (4/7), 6-3, 6-3 comeback win over French Open champion Schiavone in her Cup debut for Australia on Saturday, but she was outclassed by Pennetta with the tie on the line.
A WTA title-winner in Hobart last month, Groth’s service was broken five times as she went down in just 65 minutes.
Heading into a re-match of her meeting with Stosur in last year’s French Open final, Schiavone had spent a total of nine hours, 20 minutes on court in her three previous matches over the past fortnight – including a record-setting four-hour 44-minute Australian Open win over Svetlana Kuznetsova.
But the redoubtable Schiavone staved off 11 break points and broke Stosur’s serve for the only time in the last game of the match to give Italy the winning edge.
Elsewhere, Australian Open champion Kim Clijsters secured Belgium’s ticket for the semi-finals thanks to a 6-7 (10/12), 6-2, 6-1 victory over American Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
Belgium took an unassailable 3-0 lead and will now meet the Czech Republic in the last four after they secured their passage against Slovakia.
Results: Australia vs Italy 1-4; Slovakia vs Czech Rep. 2-3 ; Belgium vs USA 4-1; Russia vs France 3-2.