Kvitova overpowers Kirilenko to give Czechs 1-0 lead

Moscow: Petra Kvitova gave the Czech Republic a 1-0 lead in the Fed Cup tennis final against Russia by overpowering Maria Kirilenko in the opening rubber 6-2, 6-2 on Saturday.

The Wimbledon champion had little trouble, brushing aside Kirilenko in just over an hour after breaking her nervous-looking opponent twice in each set.

The 27th-ranked Russian was a last-minute replacement for world number seven Vera Zvonareva, who pulled out of the two-day tie at Moscow`s indoor arena with a shoulder injury on Friday.

After Kirilenko managed to hold her serve twice at the start of the match, the Czech left-hander took complete control, reeling off the next five games to wrap up the first set in 32 minutes.

The second set took just a couple of minutes longer.

After breaking Kirilenko in the opening game, the world number two comfortably held her own serve to notch up her fifth consecutive victory in Fed Cup competition this year.

"Well, the score may have looked easy but I still had to work for my points," Kvitova told reporters.

"Nevertheless, I should have enough energy left for tomorrow`s match and if my team need my help I could even play the doubles," added the in-form Czech, who has won two titles, including last week`s WTA Championships, in less than a month.

"I`m the team leader and there`s always pressure on me to perform well but now I fell less pressure after winning this match. Tomorrow I`ll try to give my team another victory as we need three points to win the tie."

The Czechs are bidding for their first Fed Cup title as an independent nation after splitting from Slovakia in 1993.

Their last triumph came 23 years ago when, playing as Czechoslovakia, they beat the former Soviet Union 2-1 in the 1988 final.

Svetlana Kuznetsova was facing Czech number two Lucie Safarova in the second singles rubber later on Saturday.

Bureau Report

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