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Czechs dominate opening Fed Cup singles against Italy

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Ostrava, Czech Republic (My Sportsbook) - Lucie Safarova and Petra Kvitova were singles winners Saturday, lifting the Czech Republic to a commanding 2-0 lead over Italy in the Fed Cup semifinals.

Safarova knocked off former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone, 7-6 (7-3), 6-1, to give the Czechs the first point of the day before Kvitova thumped Sara Errani, 6-4, 6-3.

The Czechs need one win on Sunday, in either reverse singles or doubles, to clinch the best-of-five tie and advance to the Fed Cup final for the second straight year.

It's a matchup of the most recent Fed Cup champions, as Italy won the title in both 2009 and 2010 before the Czechs beat Russia last year for their first championship.

Safarova broke serve to open the first match and was serving for the first set at 5-4 when Schiavone broke back to square it. After both held to send the set to a tiebreak, Safarova won the first four points and opened a 6-1 edge before finally finishing it. The second set wasn't much of contest, as Safarova won the final five games.

Kvitova, the reigning Wimbledon champ, broke serve to win the first set of the second match. Errani, coming off a title last weekend in Barcelona, returned the favor to open the second set and built a 3-1 edge before Kvitova kicked it into high gear and also won the final five games.

It was a nice bounce-back for Kvitova, who had been slowed by injuries and illness and had played just three matches -- losing two -- since leading the Czechs to a 4-1 win over the Germans in the Fed Cup quarterfinals back in February.

She'll get the first chance to wrap it up for the Czechs on Saturday with a reverse singles match against Schiavone, who has also battled injury recently. She could be replaced by Flavia Pennetta on Sunday.

Safarova and Errani are then slated to play the second reverse singles match on Sunday before the doubles rubber pits Errani and Roberta Vinci for the visitors against Lucie Hradecka and Andrea Hlavackova, who were last year's French Open doubles champs.

Italy is 4-1 all-time versus the Czech Republic, including wins in their last four meetings. The Italians own three Fed Cup titles overall and have played in four of the last six Fed Cup finals, going 3-1.

The Czech Republic-Italy winner will meet the Russia-Serbia victor in the World Group final in November.

April 21, 2012, at 10:35 AM ET
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