Ambience Madrid Open 2019

Russia two rubbers up in Fed Cup final


Vera Zvonereva and Svetlana Kuznetsova probably weren’t expecting to play in the Fed Cup final – but that hasn’t stopped them putting Russia firmly in the driving seat.

Olympic bronze medallist Zvonareva and former US Open winner Kuznetsova gave defending champions a 2-0 lead against Spain on the first day of the Fed Cup final, meaning thaey are one win away from reclaiming the title.

The pair behind Maria Sharapova, Dinara Safina and Elena Dementieva in the WTA Tour rankings – but are each still ranked in the top ten.

World No.8 Zvonareva defeated Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-3 6-4 before Kuznetsova, world No.7, cruised past Carla Suarez Navarro, ranked world No.49, 6-3 6-1.

“I get so much passion and energy when playing Fed Cup” – Svetlana Kuznetsova

“The key to the match was not to beat myself,” a thrilled Kuznetsova said afterwards. “I started to rush and try to play too well and she came back, but then I started to take my time again.”

Keen to make amends for a mediocre performance last time she represented her country in Beijing, she added: “I get so much passion and energy when playing Fed Cup.”

The writing looked to be on the wall as Spain got off to the worst possible start. Zvonareva raced into a 3-0 lead against Medina Garrigues in the opening rubber on the clay courts of the Club de Campo, before claiming the first set 6-3 in the Fed Cup final.

The Spaniard dropped serve again in the opening game of the second set, and it seemed to be all over when Zvonareva held serve.

But a raft of errors from Zvonareva invited the Spaniard back into the match. Medina Garrigues won the next four games for a 4-2 lead – before nerves seemed to get the better of her.

Zvonareva broke back and broke again to lead 5-4 before comfortably serving out the match.

“It’s tough to play the first match, and I’m happy to get through this one,” Zvonareva admitted afterwards.

“I lost a little concentration in the middle of the second set while she came up with some good shots, but I was really happy that I could raise my level again.”

Medina Garrigues admitted that the gulf in class was the telling difference. “She played very well. I couldn’t find any consistency, which is key against a top ten player. My game was very up-and-down.

“I am always very nervous in the first match of the tie and today was the same. I found some consistency in the second set but could not maintain it.”

On Sunday, Russia will need just one more win to wrap up the final with Kuznetsova due to face Medina Garrigues and Zvonareva facing Navarro.

Then, if necessary, Nuria Llagostera and Virginia Ruano Pascual will face Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova in the doubles.

Ambience Madrid Open 2019
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