Sunday, February 5, 2012

Italy beats Ukraine 3-2 in Fed Cup tie

The Italy vs. Ukraine Fed Cup tie had to go to a deciding fifth rubber today when Sara Errani was forced to retire during her match against Lesia Tsurenko. Tsurenko had already beaten Italy's Francesca Schiavone. Today, however, Schiavone staged one of her now-famous heart-stopping comebacks against Ukraine's Kateryna Bondarenko. Down a set and 1-5, Schiavone walked away with a 6-7, 7-5, 6-4 victory after two hours and 50 minutes.

Errani was unable to play doubles with partner Roberta Vinci, but Flavia Penetta--unable to play singles because of a back injury--paired with Vinci to defeat Tsurenko and Olga Savchuk 7-5, 0-6, 6-1.

Italy has won Fed Cup three times--in 2006, 2009 and 2010. In the semifinals, the team will play the Czech Republic. The Czech team defeated Germany 4-1, with Germany's one victory coming from Angelique Kerber. Sabine Lisicki lost to both Kvitova and Iveta Benesova.

Also advancing to the semifinals were Russia, with a 3-2 win over Spain.

This Fed Cup tie was marked by injury. Germany's top player, Andrea Petkovic, could not play, and neither could Victoria Azarenka of Belarus. Pennetta, of course, could not play singles, and Errani retired. Today, Serbia's Jelena Jankovic withdrew from Fed Cup competition because of a left thigh injury. The two teams began the day 1-1, and when Yanina Wickmayer beat substitute opponent Aleksandra Krunic and Bojana Jovanovski beat Kirsten Flipkens, a fifth rubber was needed.

Jankovic was scheduled to play doubles with Jovanovski, if a fifth rubber was required, but since she could not play, Krunic was asked to substitute again. The result was a very spirited effort by the Serbian team, who defeated Wickmayer and Alison Van Uytvanck 7-6, 4-6, 6-1.

This was Serbia's first top-tier victory in Fed Cup competition. The Serbian team will play four-time champion Russia in the semifnals.

The Czech Republic is the defending champion.

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