Russians, Czechs start well

Russia and the Czech Republic both took control of their Fed Cup World Group first round ties by taking 2-0 leads in Moscow and Stuttgart respectively.


For Russia, Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova recorded straight set victories against Spanish opposition while Iveta Benesova and Petra Kvitova were on song for the Czechs against Germany.

Sharapova, recent finalist at the Australian Open, wasted little time in dismantling Silvia Soler-Espinosa 6-2 6-1 to get Russia off to a good start before Kuznetsova completed a perfect day by beating Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3 6-1.

"It was much tougher to win than it may have appeared looking at the scoreline," Kuznetsova said. "I struggled to acclimatise after coming to snow-covered Moscow from Australia."

"But anyway I managed to play well enough today and I'm pleased both with my performance and with winning an important point for our team."

Benesova fought back from a set down to overcome Sabine Lisicki 2-6 6-4 6-2 and give the Czechs a 1-0 lead in Germany before Kvitova also needed three sets to down Julia Goerges in a memorable 3-6 6-3 10-8 win.

In Charleroi, Belgium had Yanina Wickmayer to thank for levelling their tie with Serbia at 1-1, the world number 29 beating Bojana Jovanovski 6-4 6-4 after Jelena Jankovic had defeated Kirsten Flipkens 7-5 7-5.

And in Biella, Italy were held at one apiece by Ukraine after Lesia Tsurenko stunned Francesca Schiavone 6-1 6-2 to draw level. Earlier Australian Open quarter-finalist Sara Errani beat Kateryna Bondarenko 6-2 6-3.

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