Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Lucie Safarova in straight sets to haul Russia level at 1-1 at the end of the first day of their Fed Cup final clash with the Czech Republic.
Earlier, Petra Kvitova gave the Czech Republic a 1-0 lead after beating Maria Kirilenko also in straight sets.
Kuznetsova, who is currently 19th in the WTA rankings and has won two Grand Slams, won 6-2, 6-3 in one hour 22 minutes to record her third win over Safarova in the fourth meeting of the pair.
The 26-year-old Kuznetsova started in lively fashion, breaking her opponent’s serve twice for a commanding 4-0 lead before Safarova chalked up her first point in the match.
After taking the first set in 36 minutes Kuznetsova also started the second set with a break. But Safarova, who is 24th in the world, refused to surrender and broke back immediately to level the match at 1-1.
However, the 2004 US Open and 2009 French Open champion Kuznetsova moved up a gear to produce two more breaks, sealing her victory with a measured backhand return.
The 21-year-old left-hander Kvitova, who is currently ranked second in the world, won 6-2, 6-2 in one hour 10 minutes to record her first win over Kirilenko in their third meeting.
“It was much tougher to win today and I used up much more energy than it may appear looking at the scoreline,” Kvitova said.
“In the Fed Cup you never know who you will be up against in your second singles rubber.
“The Russian team is full of top class players and I will have to play at my best anyway to win tomorrow (Sunday).”
Kvitova, fresh from her success at last week’s season-ending WTA championships in Istanbul, looked more focused from the start, and broke twice to take the opening set in 32 minutes.
This year’s Wimbledon champion then underlined her superiority in the second set on the hard court at Moscow’s Olympic stadium, producing two more breaks to take the set and the match.
“At the beginning I felt I could overcome her (Kvitova) power play from the baseline,” Kirilenko said. “But halfway into the first set Petra (Kvitova) added power to her serve, and it became harder for me to return.”