Belgium, Czechs tied in Fed Cup semis
The Czech Republic and Belgium were tied at 1-1 going into Sunday's final day of the Fed Cup World Group semifinal.
Czech No. 1 Petra Kvitova beat Kirsten Flipkens 6-2, 7-6 (4) in Saturday's opening match but Yanina Wickmayer pulled the host nation back into the tie with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.
The reverse singles and doubles are scheduled for Sunday. The winner of the match will play either Russia or Italy in the final on Nov. 5-6. Russia leads 2-0 in the other semifinal.
''This is how we expected it to go with Kirsten facing a tough time and Yanina putting us back in it,'' Belgium captain Sabine Appelmans said.
Kvitova, ranked 18th, immediately took the initiative against Flipkens, the world No. 106, and raced to a 4-0 lead before wrapping up the first set in just 28 minutes.
With the crowd at the 6,000-capacity Spiroudome solidly behind her, Flipkens took a 4-2 lead in the second set but Kvitova clawed back, saving one set point at 5-6, to force a tiebreak before finishing the match with a flurry.
''I was nervous in the second set,'' said Kvitova, who only pulled it all together in the tiebreak. ''I focused on every point,'' she said.
The pressure shifted to Wickmayer, ranked 23rd in the world, to keep Belgium in the tie.
After the injuries that kept Kim Clijsters out of the encounter and the retirement of Justine Henin, Wickmayer likely has to win her two singles to give Belgium a shot at its first title in a decade.
Wickmayer did not disappoint against the No. 49 Zahlavova Strycova. With attacking play that constantly kept the Czech on the defensive and wrapped the match up in one hour, 37 minutes. It was her ninth straight Fed Cup singles victory.
Many see Sunday's opener, pitting Kvitova against Wickmayer as the key to the weekend match.
After reaching the semfinals three successive years, the Czech Republic wants to push through to the final this year.