Russia defeats Italy, gains Fed Cup final
Russia took the reverse singles and a doubles match on the second day of play in the World Group semifinals to rout Italy 5-0 and secure a spot in the Fed Cup final.
Vera Zvonareva beat Roberta Vinci 6-4, 6-2 in the first reverse singles Sunday to give Russia an insurmountable 3-0 lead, and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova followed up by defeating Sara Errani 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4).
Pavlyuchenkova then paired with newcomer Ekaterina Makarova to beat the Italian duo of Alberta Brianti and Maria-Elena Camerin in the meaningless doubles 7-6 (3), 6-1 to complete the rout.
The third-ranked Zvonareva broke Vinci in the first game, before the Italian started attacking the net and leveled the set at 3-3. The 37th-ranked Vinci saved two break points in the ninth game before Zvonareva finally broke and then served out the set.
The Russian then broke twice more in the second set to clinch the match.
Zvonareva and Svetlana Kuznetsova won Saturday's singles matches to give Russia a comfortable 2-0 lead.
''The desire to win here in Moscow and give my team the third point and send it to the final helped me, but also distracted my attention,'' Zvonareva said. ''I was in a hurry and it was difficult to concentrate.''
Zvonareva said Vinci played tactically well after observing her play in the first singles match.
''She saw my match yesterday and made conclusions,'' Zvonareva said. ''She began to slice her shots from half court and I could not play my quick game. But at 4-3 down I did everything right and it was the key moment of the match.''
Zvonareva improved to 8-2 in the Fed Cup, winning her seventh straight match. She was on Russia's title-winning teams in 2004 and 2008.
Russia was heavily favored to win the tie as Italy, the two-time defending champion, was without its two top players.
Francesca Schiavone, the French Open champion, is not playing to concentrate on the clay-court season. Flavia Pennetta is sidelined with a shoulder injury.
Vinci refused to blame both players for not playing for Italy this time.
''I don't care about Schiavone and Pennetta,'' Vinci said. ''This is the team we have. Right now I'm No. 1 for Italy and Sara (Errani) is No. 2.''
Russia is unbeaten at home in 10 ties since losing to France in the 2003 semifinals. The streak includes a win over Italy in the 2007 final.
Russia and Italy have dominated the Fed Cup since 2004, winning all seven titles between them
Russia will host the Czech Republic in the final on Nov. 5-6.