It wasn't that long ago that we used to say that Russia had enough good players to put together two winning Fed Cup teams. Actually, that's still true, but they have to be uninjured and they have to want to play--and it would also help if they weren't sabotaged by the WTA, which schedules Fed Cup the same time as the Tournament of Champions. A lot of problems plagued the Russian Fed Cup team this year, and as a result, a very beatable team showed up for the final.
Italy led 2-0 going into today, and--not surprisingly--Alisa Keybanova took over for what must have been an exhausted Alexandra Panova in the third rubber of the Fed Cup final. But Kleybanova hadn't set foot on a clay court in a long, long time, and that made it easy for Sara Errani to beat her 6-1, 6-1 in just under an hour.
Errani's victory sealed the title for Italy, but the teams opted to play the dead doubles rubber, which Italy also won. Karin Knapp and Flavia Pennetta (the Queen of Fed Cup had to make an appearance, right?) defeated Margarita Gasparyan and Irina Khromacheva 4-6, 6-2, 10-4.
It should be noted that, in the four rubbers played, Russia won two sets. That statement comes over as a bit sarcastic, but I don't mean it that way at all. The Russians took a set in doubles, and Panova--as already noted--made a memorable Fed Cup debut.
This is Italy's fourth Fed Cup title. The Italian team has won four titles in the last eight years.
Don't forget to check the photo gallery on the official website.