The first day of competition on Saturday, April 21 saw a split result, so any decision as to who would be moving on was deferred until the next day for the last three rubbers. It was Ivanovic up first for Serbia, taking on Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. The back-and-forth match saw each with an opportunity.
The Russian took the first set 6-3, but then dropped a bagel in the second and went on to lose the third by a 3-6 margin. Ivanovic battled back from being down 0-5 in the first to get back in it. She couldn't salvage that one, but stormed through the second set with a furious attack that capitalized on the suddenly shaky game of Pavlyuchenkova. Ana's win put Serbia up 2-1.
Jankovic was up next, taking on the always determined Svetlana Kuznetsova, a regular on the Russian team that won four Fed Cup titles over the course of the last decade. This wasn't her day, however, and she was downed easily by Jankovic in straight sets. Sveta had downed Ivanovic the day before to earn Russia the even score, but was not playing to the same level versus Jankovic.
The doubles competition between Elena Vesnina and Pavlyuchenkova taking on Bojana Jovanovski and Aleksandra Krunic became a dead rubber.
Kvitova lead Czech Republic to another final
Last season's Fed Cup final saw Petra Kvitova take charge and lead the Czech team to the win. It was part of her amazing rise to the top of the WTA that looked to be the beginning of a long run, buty The team will get another chance in November 2012, thanks again in large part to Kvitova.
She clinched the victory by downing Italy's Francesca Schiavone in straight sets on Sunday to give her side the all-important three matches won count. At 3-0, there was nothing Italy could do after that game except play out the dead rubbers.
The teams entered the second day with the Czech Republic up 2-0, so the road was hard already. Then Schaivone caught Kivtova near the top of the defending Wimbledon champion's game, and Petra put it away in front of the home crowd.
Should be a great final
Kvitova will be focusing her efforts on a repeat performance, regardless of how the rest of the tennis season turns out. She is one of the players who has made a commitment over time to be part of their national team instead of dropping by from time to time as some do. It's refreshing to see players committed to the game and their team enough to do that.
On the Serbian side, Jankovic has proved herself a steadfast force on that team, and Ivanovic will be driven to win as well. The final should give fans some great tennis to look forward to this fall. Strictly speaking as a fan, I'd love to see Serbia win, but expect a good tournament in any case.
Jeff Musall is a longtime fan and player of tennis. He began following the professional game as a kid back in the '70s, watching the greats of that era.