In 2011, Russia looked to maintain its recent dominance in the team event against an up-and-coming Czech Republic team.
Back in 2004, when Russian women won three of the four Grand Slams, it was only fitting that the country would capture its first title at the Fed Cup after four final-round showings. The nation would go on to be crowned champions at the international team event three of the next four years, establishing itself as a dynasty.
In 2011, after barely escaping the first round, the country managed to reach the final once again. In the last round, they would face the Czech Republic, who overcame Slovakia and Belgium to reach the final for the first time as an independent nation.
Played on an indoor hard court in Moscow, two heavy hitters opened up play, as Maria Kirilenko took on the new Wimbledon champion, Petra Kvitova. The visiting player blasted through her match in straight sets to give the Czechs a 1-0 lead. The second rubber saw a turnaround as two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova eased past Lucie Safarova to level the contest.
The first reverse singles match pitted Kuznetsova against Kvitova. Kuznetsova struck first, taking the opening set 6-4. However, she was unable to keep up the pace as her younger opponent rallied to take the next two sets and the match. Down 2-1, Russia brought in Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to play the fourth rubber, and she was able to even things up by defeating Safarova in straight sets.
It came down to the doubles, with all four players accomplished in the discipline. In the end, though, the Czech pairing of Lucie Hradecka and Kveta Peschke were too strong for Kirilenko and Elena Vesnina, winning in straight sets to give the visiting nation the title.
Pavlyuchenkova helped Russia stave off defeat twice over the year: in this final and in the first round when she won the third rubber against France when Russia was down 2-0.
Kvitova won all six of her singles rubbers over the year, only dropping two sets along the way.
That was the year the Czech Republic won its last title, when it was still the Czech Republic. Their opponents? The Soviet Union.
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