The first day of the Fed Cup semifinals is over, and Italy has yet to drop a set. Sara Errani got her country off to a good start by defeating Lucie Safarova 6-4, 6-2. Then, for the second time in a row, Roberta Vinci proved to be too clever for Petra Kvitova, defeating her 6-4, 6-1. Vinci got quite a bit of help from Kvitova, it should be noted. Usually totally "on" during Fed Cup, the Czech star looked a beat behind as she struggled to move forward to retrieve sliced balls and drop shots, and she made repeated unforced errors.
Vinci became increasingly aggressive, giving Kvitova little opportunity to create her own sometimes lethal aggression. And while both players had trouble holding serve in the first set, Vinci hung in, and more or less cruised through the second. Kvitova failed to hold her serve one time during the entire match.
It was strange to see Flavia Pennetta sitting in the stands. I wondered whether she felt she ought to be tied down to the seat, so customary is it for her to be on the court, moving Italy forward or saving it from a crisis. But there she was, along with Francesca Schiavone, watching the current premier pair of Fighting Italians, Errani and Vinci.
Meanwhile, the Slovak Republic went up 2-0 against Russia. Dominika Cibulkova defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 5-7, 6-1, 6-4, and an absolutely inspired Daniela Hantuchova defeated Maria Kirilenko 6-2, 6-4. Hantuchova is unfortunately known for not being able to close well, but she won the last several points of this rubber in great style.