Kvitova fires Czechs past France, into Fed Cup final

AFP

Ostrava (Czech Republic) (AFP) - Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova sent holders the Czech Republic into their fourth Fed Cup final in five years after breezing past France's Caroline Garcia in straight sets here on Sunday.

On the hardcourt of the CEZ Arena in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava, the left-handed world number four beat 29th-ranked Garcia 6-4, 6-4 in an hour and 32 minutes to give the hosts an unbeatable 3-0 lead.

The Czechs, who won the Fed Cup title in 2011, 2012 and 2014, will now take on Russia in Prague in the November 14-15 final after the Russians beat Germany 3-2 in the other semi-final.

In Sunday's clash of the teams' number one players, the 25-year-old Kvitova showed she was back in shape after a month-long break from the sport as she won the 25th of her 31 Fed Cup singles rubbers.

The first set offered aggressive tennis with Kvitova earning two breaks against one for Garcia who tossed her racket and slammed the ball into the ground in frustration.

In the second set, the 2011 and 2014 Wimbledon champion showed her dominance over the 21-year-old French youngster, taking a 5-1 lead which Garcia only managed to narrow.

"It was definitely hard," Kvitova said after the game.

"I knew what to expect, I played against her last year so I knew how to play and it worked.

"She likes to play fast, long balls into the body so the rival wouldn't have time.

"I tried to play the same, go for it from the first ball after the serve so she would have to run and wouldn't have time to dictate the pace," she added, praising Garcia's "very solid performance."

Garcia said the game was "a high-level one".

"It was close today, she handled her chances a bit better than I did. I tried to do my best," she said.

In the dead doubles rubber on Sunday, France's Kristina Mladenovic and Pauline Parmentier beat Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova 0-6, 6-3, 10/8 to round off the final score at 3-1.

On Saturday, world number 13 and Czech number two Safarova beat Garcia 4-6, 7-6 (7/1), 6-1.

Kvitova then saw off 58th-ranked Mladenovic 6-3, 6-4.

"I saw Garcia play with Lucie on Saturday and I could see she gave her a hard time on the court so I'm happy I managed a bit faster and without the nerves that Lucie had," said Kvitova.

Czech captain Petr Pala, who has been with the team since 2008, said the tie with France was far from easy.

"You may say it was 3-0, but it was terribly close," he said.

"Lucie made a great comeback from five match points against her in the first rubber and Petra had to play great today to succeed. It's tough on Caroline, but she has played two great rubbers.

"Petra did a great job, she must have been terribly nervous on Saturday because her break (from tennis) was quite long, but she handled it like a great player."

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