Ana Ivanovic looked back to her best on Sunday as she pulled off a staggering straight-set victory over Petra Kvitova to keep Serbia in the hunt for Fed Cup glory.
Ivanovic faced one of the toughest players on the circuit in Prague, but proved inspired to overcome her Czech opponent 6-3 7-5 after surviving a late scare.
It took a final push and three match points to claim the win for Serbia, with the Fed Cup scores now 2-1 to the hosts on the Sunday showdown.
Ivanovic looked a transformation of the player that lost in straight sets to Lucie Safarova on Saturday. The Serb played immaculately in the first set, holding her returns and almost rushing through her own service games. She cantered to a first-set victory and continued her firm focus into the second.
2-1 up in the second Ivanovic had three break points and, after two long efforts, secured the game when Kvitova hit into the net with a low forearm.
The Czech looked exhausted by that point and almost resigned to losing the match, but proved her mettle in the return game forcing a break on Ivanovic’s serve. However, the power and confidence of the Serb was too much and Ivanovic went into the change of ends 4-1 up.
A superb love service game handed Ivanovic a 5-2 lead as the Serb imposed herself upon Kvitova, spreading her opponent across the baseline before slamming home. Yet Kvitova would not budge and a long forearm from Ivanovic earned the Czech slight respite and pressure on her opponent to serve out.
Maybe Ivanovic was feeling that pressure, for Kvitova found power from somewhere to keep her opponent behind the baseline and earn two early points. A wild Ivanovic effort opened up three break points and moments later the match was back in the balance 5-4!
A huge Kvitova service game brought the scores level only for Ivanovic to turn back with another love service game, almost silencing the Prague crowd.
Indeed, Ivanovic’s brief scare appeared to have evaporated as she stormed to three match points on Kvitova’s serve. After losing the first, she hit a forehand millimetres out of Kvitova’s left-hand sideline, a decision that went down to Hawkeye as Ivanovic looked hopefully on.
The disappointment would not deter Ivanovic however, as she powered through a forehand to finally take victory and leave the Fed Cup scores 2-1 in Czech’s favour.