Vera Zvonareva and Svetlana Kuznetsova put the home team 2-0 up over Italy in Moscow.

Zvonareva set the tone with a 60 62 demolition of Errani in the opening match of the tie. Kuznetsova was then made to battle by a determined Roberta Vinci before prevailing 62 67(4) 61 in the second singles rubber. Saturday’s wins for Russia mean that Zvonareva could seal victory for the team against Vinci in Sunday’s first reverse singles match, though there was no hint of complacency in the Russian camp. For his part, Italian captain Corrado Barazzutti sounded an optimistic, if philosophical, note as he looked ahead to what is likely to be another challenging day for his team. “We have to acknowledge that the Russians played very well today. They have great players,” he said. “Tomorrow is another day and if the Russians win, then we have to congratulate them but we will have to see what’s up tomorrow because anything can happen.” After Zvonareva’s one-sided win, Kuznetsova and Vinci produced a battle that owed plenty to the Italian’s swashbuckling tennis style, which was most evident in the second set. At one stage, Vinci led 4-1 and had a ball for 5-1 before being pushed to a tiebreak. It was a sequence of events which was to rob her of much-needed energy for the third set.

Andrea Petkovic and Julia Goerges both scored straight sets victories to put Germany in charge against USA in their Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group play-off tie in Stuttgart. Petkovic gave Germany a great start to their promotion campaign with a 63 64 win over 18-year-old Christina McHale. The German No. 1 broke serve on four occasions, and only conceded her own delivery twice, to seal victory in 1 hour 35 minutes. Goerges then avenged a recent defeat by Melanie Oudin in Miami by coming back from a break down in the second set to win 62 76(5).

The Americans are missing their top three players through injury – Serena and Venus Williams, and Bethanie Mattek-Sands – leaving added pressure on the young shoulders of McHale and Oudin.



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