Australia, Italy tied in Fed Cup
Flavia Pennetta won a tight match with Sam Stosur to draw defending champion Italy level with Australia at 1-1 after Saturday's opening singles in their Fed Cup World Group clash.
Jarmila Groth gave Australia a surprise 1-0 lead by beating French Open champion Francesca Schiavone 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-3, but Pennetta responded by causing an upset of her own, edging No. 5-ranked Sam Stosur 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 6-4.
Stosur and Pennetta entered their match with long winning streaks in the competition, the Australian having won 11 straight matches over the past two years and the Italian unbeaten in her past eight during the same period.
Pennetta, though, had never dropped a set in three previous meetings with Stosur.
Stosur could have won in straight sets but was twice broken to love while trying to serve out the first set from 5-4 up, and then when attempting to close out the second from 5-3 in front.
''Anytime you serve for the first two sets of the match, it's obviously disappointing losing,'' Stosur said. ''I wanted to get a better result against her today.''
Groth, making her Fed Cup debut, came from a set and service break down to secure the win in 2 1/2 hours, including a 13-minute rain delay. The rain came with Groth holding three match points and No. 4-ranked Schiavone dumped a forehand into the net upon the players' return to give Groth victory.
''It's my first singles in Fed Cup, so it's also very important and very exciting and I happened to beat someone who is ranked four in the world, which is amazing,'' Groth said. ''It's one of the great wins for me and I couldn't ask for a better start.''
On Sunday, Stosur and Schiavone will stage a recap of last year's French Open final in the first reverse singles match, before Groth meets Pennetta. Anastasia Rodionova has been named to partner veteran Rennae Stubbs in the doubles against Italy's Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani.
Australia has won all five previous matches against the Europeans, but Italy has reached four finals in the past five years and won the Fed Cup in 2006, 2009 and 2010. Australia is making its first appearance in the eight-nation World Group since 2004, while Italy is the top seed in 2011.