Vinci wins epic to help Italy into 2-0 lead in Fed Cup final

November 2, 2013
Italy's Vinci hits a return to Russia's Panova during their Fed Cup World Group women's tennis final match in Cagliari
Italy's Roberta Vinci hits a return to Russia's Alexandra Panova during their Fed Cup World Group women's tennis final match in Cagliari, November 2, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

(Reuters) - Roberta Vinci won a three hour, 13 minute marathon against Russia's Alexandra Panova as Italy grabbed a 2-0 lead in the Fed Cup final on Saturday.

A roaring home crowd backed Vinci as she was pushed to the limit before edging past Panova 5-7 7-5 8-6 in Cagliari.

Sara Errani kept up the momentum to record a more straightforward 6-1 6-4 win over Irina Khromacheva to put the hosts on the verge of their fourth Fed Cup title.

Italy are clear favorites to win the tournament against a Russian team who are contesting the final without top players Maria Kirilenko, Elena Vesnina and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Panova had four match points against Vinci while leading 7-5 5-2 but was powerless to stop Vinci, who played through severe neck pain, to win five games in a row to take the second set.

Vinci and Panova fought tooth-and-nail during a dramatic, error-strewn third set before the Italian wrapped up victory.

(Reporting by Terry Daley, editing by Pritha Sarkar)