Defending Fed Cup champions from the Czech Republic are close to advancing to the World Group semifinals after the first day of play. Petra Kvitova defeated Australia's Jarmila Gajdosova 7-6, 6-3 in the opening rubber. In the second rubber, Sam Stosur failed to taantage of several leads, and was defeated 7-6, 7-6 by Lucie Safarova. Kvitova and Stosur will face off tomorrow, and it's hard to imagine anything but a Kvitova victory, which would put the Czechs into the 2013 semifinals.
Italy's Sara Errani defeated the USA's Jamie Hampton 6-2, 6-1. The second rubber had a lot more drama. Roberta Vinci won the first set 6-2, and Varvara Lepchenko won the second set 6-4. Lepchenko then went up 5-1, as Vinci experienced cramping in her left thigh. But the Italian made things even for 5-all, but then the cramping became what appeared to be agonizing. Lepchenko won the third set 7-5.
Vinci, who has never lost a Fed Cup doubles match (she's won 17 of them), and who is half of the world's number 1 team, is scheduled to play singles tomorrow, and--if needed--doubles. There is a possibility that she will have to withdraw, at least from singles competition.
Russia's Maria Kirilenko defeated Kimiko Date-Krumm 7-6, 6-4 in the opening rubber between Russia and Japan. She lost, but Date-Krumm certainly didn't go down easily. In the other match, the ever-improving Ayumi Morita defeated Russia's Ekaterina Makarova 6-2, 6-2.
In fourth World Group event, Serbia and the Slovak Republic are tied 1-1. Daniela Hantuchova defeated Bojana Jovanovdki 7-6, 6-2, then Dominika Cibulkova retired--at 6-4, 5-4--against Vesna Dolonc. Cibulkova, who has had to retire several times because of thigh injuries--received medical treatment for a thigh cramp when she led 5-3 in the second set. Then, at 5-4, she fell down backwards onto the court, and the collapse looked very painful. With both Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic out because of injury, it looked as though the Slovak Republic would have a pretty easy time of it. But now that Cibulkova is out, too, I suppose anything could happen.
In World Group II, Switzerland and Belgium are tied at 1-1, Argentina leads Sweden 2-0, Spain leads Ukraine 2-0, and Germany leads France 2-0. The big news should have been that--thanks to (reasonable) captain Amelie Mauresmo--Marion Bartoli, after a nine-year absence, was actually named to the French Fed Cup team. A Fed Cup miracle. But Bartoli withdrew from competition because of illness. Don't you just love Fed Cup?
I do love Fed Cup, and I'm not a very happy person right now. Friday night, I did what I always do the day before Fed Cup competition: I bought a weekend pass so I could watch the matches on the ITF Fed Cup website. Only there's a blackout in the USA, and I was unable to watch anything on the official site. A staff member gave me even worse news: The USA blackout will extend throughout the whole year. This is really bad news for fans.
And I have to ask: Why didn't the ITF post a notice to USA viewers that a blackout had gone into effect? No--instead I paid for my pass and then had to ask for a refund.
One more item of interest: Australian Open junior girls champion (singles and doubles) Ana Konjuh beat Urszula Radwanska in the Croatia vs. Poland Fed Cup competition. The 15-year old Konjuh won 2-6, 6-3, 7-6. Konjuh is ranked number 880 in the world. Check this out: