PRAGUE (AP) — The Czech Republic claimed its third Fed Cup title in four years after Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova fought hard to overcome Angelique Kerber of Germany in the opening reverse singles match on Sunday.
In a matchup of two top-10 players, Kvitova prevailed 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-4 in nearly three hours to give the Czechs an unassailable 3-0 lead in the best-of-five series on the indoor hard court at Prague’s O2 Arena.
“It was an amazing match from both of us,” Kvitova said. “It was a very big fight. I’m just glad that I did it. It was really up and down from the beginning of the match. It was always a big fight about every single point.”
Kvitova fought back from 4-1 down in the decisive set and went 5-4 up after earning a break point with a stunning forehand crosscourt winner before serving out the match.
She converted her fourth match point when Kerber’s backhand hit the net, prompting a wild celebration of team members on the court and 13,000 fans in the stands of the sold out arena.
“Czechs win #fedcup!!!! Congrats:),” tweeted Martina Navratilova, a prominent Czech supporter who was in the stands. Navratilova won the Fed Cup with Czechoslovakia and later with the United States.
“This is something you can’t have every day and we have it here for the second time,” Kvitova said.
With Kvitova on the team, the Czechs won their first title as an independent nation following the 1993 split of Czechoslovakia in 2011 in Moscow and retained the trophy in Prague’s O2 Arena the following year. Czechoslovakia won five times, including three straight from 1983-85. It beat Germany in the 1983 final.
In a thrilling first set that took 76 minutes, Kerber wasted six set points before Kvitova converted her second one in a tie breaker with a forehand winner.
Kerber wasted a 5-2 lead in the first set, allowing Kvitova to fight back to level the set at 5-5 and the two were not able to hold serve in the last two games before the tiebreaker.
Unlike her victory on Saturday, Kvitova struggled with consistency, producing 30 unforced errors in the opening set compared to Kerber’s 16.
But at the key moments, Kvitova could still rely on her fierce groundstrokes and serve, hitting 70 winners and 12 aces.
Kvitova marched on in the second. She broke Kerber in the opening game at love and again in the third game to jump to a 3-0 lead with a big forehand winner.
Kerber was not ready to surrender. She capitalized on two Kvitova double faults in the sixth game for a break to claw her way back.
“I’m playing for Germany, I’m playing for my team,” Kerber said. “I gave everything I had today but at the end Petra was better. I think it was just two, three points which decided the match. She deserved to win but we both played on a high level today. It was for sure one of the best matches this season for me.”
The Germans have not won the trophy since 1992.
The Czechs took control of the series with a 2-0 lead after the opening singles matches on Saturday.
Kvitova cruised past Andrea Petkovic 6-2, 6-4 and Lucie Safarova doubled the lead by defeating Kerber 6-4, 6-4.
Germany’s pair of Julia Goerges and Sabine Lisicki defeated Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka 6-4, 6-3 in the doubles to make the final scoreline 3-1.
Despite the final loss, Germany enjoyed a successful year, winning away at Slovakia and Australia to reach its first Fed Cup final since 1992. It beat Spain for the title that year with now captain Barbara Rittner in the side.
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