Ostrava, Czech Republic: Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova used her powerful serve and forehand to clinch victory for Czech Republic over Italy in the Fed Cup semi-finals and give the hosts a chance to defend their title.
The third-ranked Kvitova overcame Francesca Schiavone 6-4, 7-6 (1) on Sunday to give the Czechs an insurmountable 3-0 lead and wrap up the best-of-the five series on an indoor hardcourt at the CEZ Arena.
The Czechs will host Serbia in November's final.
Sara Errani defeated Andrea Hlavackova 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 in the second reverse singles later on Sunday for Italy's first point, before Hlavackova teamed up with Lucie Hradecka to make it 4-1 after the final doubles against Errani and Flavia Pennetta. Pennetta had to retire at 5-6 due to a wrist injury.
"I really wanted to be in the final again," Kvitova said. "It's unbelievable. It was an unbelievable feeling [to win]."
The Czechs beat Russia in last year's final, with Kvitova winning both her singles matches. She has won her last 10 Fed Cup singles matches. Kvitova converted her second match point with a forehand winner to improve her Fed Cup singles record to 15-4.
Kvitova didn't waste time in the opening set, breaking her 12th-ranked opponent to jump into a 3-0 lead before dropping her serve twice, allowing Schiavone to come back. Under pressure, the Italian saved three set points in the 10th game before netting a backhand on the fourth.
"Francesca surprised me," Kvitova said. "She played long returns and I could hardly do anything with that but to rely on my serve."
Schiavone fought hard to get back into the second, breaking Kvitova in the fifth game. But she failed to serve the set out and Kvitova dominated the resulting tie-breaker.
"It was important for me to win, it's a confidence boost," said Kvitova, who has played only three matches — and lost two — on the WTA Tour since she helped the Czechs beat Germany 4-1 in February.
In Saturday's opening singles, Lucie Safarova defeated Schiavone 7-6 (3), 6-1 before Kvitova doubled the advantage by beating Errani 6-4, 6-3 to give the Czechs a commanding 2-0 lead.
Serbia completed a victory over Russia in the other semi-final on Sunday.