Playing in front of the home crowd in Chieti, Italy has passed the Fed Cup first round for the first time since 2014, beating Spain 3-2 on an indoor clay court. Two years ago these two teams have met in the World Group I Play-off and Spain toppled Italy 4-0 so this came as a nice revenge from the Italian squad.
Sara Errani and Carla Suarez Navarro brought wins for each team on Saturday and they opened today's action with a win for the home player by 6-3 3-6 6-3 in 2 hours and 18 minutes. As was expected from these two on the slowest surface, serve didn't bring them anything and we saw 28 break points up for grabs, 14 on each side! Suarez Navarro got eight breaks but Errani did a better job in stealing rival's serve 10 times to prevail as a winner.
Sara broke Carla no less than seven times in a row at the start of the match, creating a 6-3 3-1 gap before the Spaniard claimed four consecutive breaks of serve to take the second set 6-3 and force a decider. Errani recovered her game in the best possible moment, holding twice at the start of the third set and breaking Suarez Navarro on two occasions to race into a 4-0 lead, and she closed the match with another break in game nine to send Italy 2-1 in front.
21-year-old Deborah Chiesa got a chance to make her Fed Cup debut for Italy against Lara Arrubarrena in the fourth rubber and she presented the third point for her country, beating the better-ranked opponent 6-4 2-6 7-6 in 2 hours and 28 minutes. Arrubarrena won two points more overall thanks to that second set and they both had 12 break points, with six opportunities converted for her and five for Deborah who had to save a match point at 6-7 in the tie break to make her triumph even more impressive.
They traded breaks at the start and in the middle of the opening set before Chiesa got another one in game seven to win the opener 6-4. Arrubarrena fought back strong in set number two, breaking her rival three times in a row for 6-2 and again in the fourth game of the decider to jump into a 4-1 lead.
The Italian broke back at love in game seven to erase her deficit and she built a 5-1 advantage in the tie break. Lara climbed back to 5-5 and she saved a match point at 5-6 to win the next two points and earn her match point at 7-6.
Deborah remained calm and she won the last three points of the encounter to celebrate a huge win with her teammates and the place in the semis. World Group II Saturday's results: