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Safarova beats Ivanovic in Fed Cup opener

PRAGUE (AFP) –

Lucie Safarova (pictured) needed an hour and 41 minutes to sink Ana Ivanovic

Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic returns a ball to Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic during the opening match of the Fed Cup final in Prague. Safarova won the match 6-4, 6-3 to give the holders a 1-0 lead.

The Czech Republic’s Lucie Safarova beat Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 6-3 in the first Fed Cup final rubber here on Saturday to give the holders a 1-0 lead.

Safarova, the world number 17 and Czech number two, needed an hour and 41 minutes to sink world number 12 Ivanovic on the hardcourt of Prague’s O2 Arena.

Ivanovic, a former world number one, never found the pace to match her left-handed rival, making 32 unforced errors against Safarova’s 18.

Serbian number one Ivanovic was broken twice in both sets, letting Safarova improve her head-to-head winning streak to four victories.

“We both started very nervous, luckily I was the first one who improved and got the first set, which was very important,” Safarova said.

“Then I even upgraded my game, I was pushing her, going through her backhand …(and) using the leftie rotation to her backhand, which was very effective,” she added.

Ana Ivanovic slammed the ground in frustration several times during the match

Ana Ivanovic returns a ball to Lucie Safarova during their Fed Cup match in Prague on Saturday. Ivanovic, a former world number one, never found the pace to match her left-handed rival, making 32 unforced errors against Safarova’s 18.

Despite the score, “it was a very close second set, she had many break points on my serve and I think the key was that I held those break points and kept my focus.”

Pushed by a frantic home crowd of more than 13,500 fans, “I had goosebumps throughout the match, the atmosphere was unbelievable,” she added.

Ivanovic did not conceal her disappointment.

“At the beginning of the match I wasn’t really letting go on my shots and they were ending quite short,” she said.

“This let her be aggressive and this was I think the key to today’s match.

“I’m very disappointed I didn’t manage to get the first point for our team,” added Ivanovic, who slammed her racket against the ground in frustration several times.

“I thought I had plenty of opportunities and I just wasn’t executing when it was important.”

“It was very frustrating, I felt like I could turn the match around, but I just wasn’t winning the most important points.”

In the second rubber on Saturday, Czech number one Petra Kvitova, who is recovering from a cold that forced her to pull out of the WTA Championship last week, will face Serbia’s number two Jelena Jankovic.

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