The Czech Republic's Fed Cup team did very well in taking their first step to defend their 2012 championship. Today, Kvitova defeated Australia's Sam Stosur 2-6, 7-6, 6-4. (She had to save a match point, and it was a relief to learn that she still could.) The new rule (if a team has a 3-0 lead, the doubles rubber is played next instead of the fourth singles rubber) went into effect, and Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka beat Ashley Barty and Casey Dellacqua 6-0, 7-6.
Kvitova always rises to the occasion for Fed Cup, just like Flavia Pennetta always did for Italy. Today, it was Roberta Vinci who rose to the occasion for Italy. There was some question as to whether Vinci would be able to play today, after she suffered a bad thigh cramp yesterday. But there she was, playing the USA's Jamie Hampton in the fourth rubber. Sara Errani had already lost the third rubber to Varvara Lepchenko, so it was all on the physically impaired Vinci. And she won, 6-2, 4-6, 6-1.
With a 2-2 tie, it was up to Errani and Vinci to win the doubles rubber against Liezel Huber and Varvara Lepchenko. The Italians won that match 6-2, 6-2, advanced to the semifinals.
Ayumi Morita, who beat Russia's Ekaterina Makarova yesterday, defeated Elena Vesnina today, which put Japan 2-1 against Russia. But then Makarova came back and defeated An injured Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-1, 6-1. Makarova and Vesnina then defeated Misaki Doi and Morita 6-2, 6-2 in doubles.
Finally, the Slovak Republic advanced by eliminating 2012 runner-up Serbia. Jana Cepelova beat Bojana Jovanovski 5-7, 7-5, 11-9 in a match that in a match that lasted 3 hours and 18 minutes and featured 21 service breaks. Next, Daniela Hantuchova defeated Vesna Dolonc in straight sets, which gave her country a ticket to the semifinals.
The two players with memorable performances were Vinci, of course, and Lepchenko. Vinci is now 18-0 in Fed Cup doubles competition. In the semifinals, the Czech Republic will play Italy, and Russia will play the Slovak Republic.
In World Group II, Switzerland (def. Belgium) will play Sweden (def. Argentina), and Spain (def. Ukraine) will play Germany (def. France).