Czech Republic leads Russia 1-0 in Fed Cup final
PRAGUE (AP) Petra Kvitova overcame a slow start and rallied for a 2-6, 6-1, 6-1 victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on Saturday to give defending champion Czech Republic a 1-0 lead over Russia in the Fed Cup final.
Amid increased security measures following the terrorist attacks in Paris, the Czech player converted her first match point when the 28th-ranked Russian double-faulted.
The players and 13,000 spectators at Prague's O2 Arena observed a minute of silence during the opening ceremony for the victims of the deadly attacks.
Kvitova led the Czechs to three Fed Cup titles in the last four years but was not able to find her game in the first set before staging a comeback.
''I was nervous,'' Kvitova said. ''It was difficult. I was trying to hold my serve in the second set and then I had an opportunity to break her. I think that game was really key for the second set and maybe for the match.''
Kvitova converted her 10th break point to finally break the Russian for the first time in the second game of the second set and broke again for a 4-0 lead when Pavlyuchenkova double-faulted.
Kvitova found her rhythm with her typical fierce groundstrokes to dominate the rest of the match and improve to 7-3 against her opponent and 26-6 in Fed Cup singles.
In the final set, she jumped to a 5-1 lead to take full control.
''Overall, I think I wasn't playing bad,'' Pavlyuchenkova said. ''Just she found her game, she started to hit crazy strokes and then I was under pressure.''
Russia's No. 1 Maria Sharapova plays Karolina Pliskova in the second singles match later Saturday. It's the first meeting between the two.
Sharapova's rare presence in the team is a boost for Russia's hopes of taking the cup for the first time since 2008.
''(The victory) is really important,'' Kvitova said. ''It's a little bit easier situation (for Pliskova) to play when we're leading and maybe for Maria it's little bit more pressure.''
Czech President Milos Zeman canceled his visit to the final to attend a meeting of the country's Security Council after the attacks.