Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova gave the Czech Republic a 2-0 lead over Germany in the Fed Cup final in Prague on Saturday after winning their opening rubbers in straight sets.
Kvitova, the Czech number one player and world number four, overcame Germany’s number two Andrea Petkovic 6-2 6-4 in an hour and 17 minutes.
Safarova then needed an hour and 28 minutes to beat Germany’s Angelique Kerber 6-4 6-4.
The Czechs, who won the trophy in 2011 and 2012, are within a point of making it three in four years. Germany last won the Fed Cup in 1992.
On the superfast hardcourt of Prague’s O2 Arena, Wimbledon champion Kvitova leaned on her serve and aggressive play in the first set.
The 24-year-old Czech first broke Petkovic’s serve in game two after the German world number 14 produced two double faults, then snatched another break for a 5-1 lead.
Serving for the set, Kvitova lost concentration, squandered a set point and let the 27-year-old German break her serve, before breaking back for 6-2.
In the second set, both players allowed a break apiece, then held on to their serves until game 10, in which Kvitova snatched a break point and converted it as Petkovic fired long from Kvitova’s backhand slice.
“I’m just glad that I did everything well,” Kvitova said after the game.
“She tried to play a little bit better at the end of the first set and it was just important that I had a break back.
“It was really tight in the second set and I was looking for the moment when it was going to be very close and that’s going to be my chance.”
Petkovic admitted she was “obviously more nervous in Fed Cup than in normal matches” but paid a tribute to Kvitova for her performance.
“I wasn’t playing badly, she was just so much better in each and every department.
“The main difference was that she served better and returned better. It was difficult for me to take the initiative,” said Petkovic.
In a clash of two left-handers, Safarova, the world number 17, and 10th-ranked Kerber had a break each in the first set until the 27-year-old Safarova earned two break points in game 10.
She converted the second spectacularly to win the set as the 26-year-old German blasted the ball into a corner, yelled in celebration and was penalised for hindrance as a diving Safarova miraculously returned the ball.
Both had two breaks in the second set before Safarova took a 5-4 lead and earned three match points, converting the last one to finish a rubber in which she had 32 unforced errors against Kerber’s 23.
“I think we both were nervous,” said Safarova. “It was very close, each point, so I just concentrated on each point and I was believing in myself that I can do it.”
In the reverse singles on Sunday, Kvitova will play Kerber and Safarova meets Petkovic, before Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka take on Julia Goerges and Sabine Lisicki in the doubles.