Hobart, 6 February 2011 | AAP
Samantha Stosur and Jarmila Groth are hoping to deliver Australia a famous Fed Cup triumph over two-time defending champions Italy when their quarter-final tie concludes in Hobart on Sunday.
Australia and Italy will resume deadlocked at one rubber apiece following Saturday’s thrilling opening singles matches.
Groth continued her dream summer with a stirring 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 6-3 comeback win over world No.4 Francesca Schiavone before Stosur came up painfully short against her career nemesis Flavia Pennetta.
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Pennetta had never dropped a set in three previous meetings with Stosur and once again imposed her mental will over the world No.5 to squeeze out a tense 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (7-5) 6-4 win.
Stosur could well have won in straight sets but was twice broken to love while trying to serve out the first set from 5-4 up and then again when attempting to close out the second from 5-3 in front.
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“Any time you serve for the first two sets of the match, it’s obviously disappointing losing,” Stosur said.
“I wanted to get a better result against her today. It was better on the scoreboard, but still not a win.”
Making her Fed Cup debut for Australia, Groth had earlier given the hosts the early advantage in the best-of-five match tie after recovering from a set and 2-0 down against Schiavone, the reigning French Open champion.
“I can’t really describe what it is or how it feels because you play for the team, you play for the country,” a jubilant Groth said.
Stosur vowed after her disappointing defeat to regroup for her Roland Garros final rematch with Schiavone in Sunday’s first reverse singles rubber.
Stosur leads Schiavone 5-2 head-to-head and a repeat of her success over the Italian in their last-up clash at the WTA Championships in Doha in October would give Groth the chance to secure Australia a semi-final berth with victory over Pennetta in the second reverse singles match.
“It would be awesome if that could happen,” Groth said.
“I will try to do what I do best and I will go there and fight for every point I can and if it takes me five hours or it takes me 40 minutes, I will be there.
“The whole team is going to work towards one goal, which is to beat Italy.”
Australian captain David Taylor has named dual Commonwealth Games gold medallist Anastasia Rodionova to partner veteran Rennae Stubbs in the doubles against Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani.
But the respective team captains have the option of changing their line-ups for the potentially decisive fifth rubber – and Taylor hasn’t ruled out drafting in Stosur, a multiple grand slam doubles champion who also boasts a 6-0 win-loss record in Cup doubles matches.
Watch the Australia versus Italy Fed Cup World Group clash live on Fox Sports on 6 February or follow the live scores on tennis.com.au.
Sunday 6 January TV guide
The replay of Saturday’s first two singles rubbers will be shown at 9:00 am on Sunday on Fox Sports 3 (no red button required), immediately before the live coverage of Day 2, which begins at 11 am.