Italy take 2-0 lead over U.S. in Fed Cup final

Nov 30, -0001
REGGIO CALABRIA: Italy stormed into a 2-0 lead over the United States in the Fed Cup final when Francesca Schiavone outfoxed Melanie Oudin 7-6 6-2 on Saturday.

World number 11 Flavia Pennetta had earlier overpowered Alexa Glatch 6-3 6-1 to give the hosts a strong start. Schiavone triumphed having been 4-2 down in the first set when rain forced a two-hour delay.

The Italian came back out much the stronger and immediately broke the 18-year-old with an exquisite drop shot. Her opponent then hit the net with an easy shot on serve in the tiebreak, allowing a confident Schiavone to take it 7-2.

Oudin, the top-ranked U.S. player in the team at 49 after Serena and Venus Williams decided not to compete, broke in the first game of the second set but lost the advantage straight away when she missed with a sliced backhand.

Schiavone then broke to love to move 3-1 up and although she again carelessly dropped her serve, the win was hers. "Even at 4-2 in the first set there wasn't that big a difference between us, it was very balanced," Schiavone told a news conference.

"Afterwards she made a couple of mistakes and I quickly took advantage and that's through my experience." Oudin, who also had to deal with the partisan crowd, said the rain break had played a part in her defeat. "I think it definitely helped her. She came out and started playing a lot better. She wasn't missing anything when she came back out. She changed her game a little bit," the American said. "I started a little slow ... you can't control the weather."


In the opening match, Pennetta quickly imposed herself and broke Glatch to go 2-1 up thanks in part to a superb drop shot. She then sealed the first set when the tall American was broken again after going long. Pennetta lost focus slightly at the start of the second set, being broken in the first game, but stormed straight back with a graceful winner to level at 1-1 and easily wrapped up the match. "It was very emotional with the national anthem (before play started). I almost wanted to cry," she said.

"I managed to play out the game well without being too spectacular but staying calm." Italy need to win just one more match to seal their second Fed Cup title while the U.S. are seeking an 18th crown.

"At the beginning I thought I had a couple of chances but she played extremely well," said inexperienced Glatch, 20. "There were a few things which let me down."

Rain is forecast in south Italy on Sunday when the reverse singles and doubles take place. Pennetta meets Oudin first. Organisers have the option of extending play until Monday if the tie is not completed, with media already criticising the decision to play on an outdoor clay court in November. AGENCIES






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