Pennetta and Schiavone put Italy in driving seat
Issued on: Modified:
With straight set victories, Flavia Pennetta (pictured) and Francesca Schiavone put Italy in a 2-0 lead position after the first day's play at the Fed Cup.
AFP - Flavia Pennetta and Francesca Schiavone cruised to straight set victories to send Italy into a 2-0 lead in the Fed Cup final against the United States on Saturday.
Pennetta had no trouble seeing off Alexa Glatch 6-3, 6-1, while Schiavone came through 7-6 (7/2), 6-2 against teenager Melanie Oudin as the US struggled without the Williams sisters.
World number one Serena pulled out while Venus was not selected.
Glatch, 20, may have won her only previous encounter against Pennetta but here the gulf in class between the two, who are separated by 121 places in the world rankings, was obvious.
World number 11 Pennetta admitted the emotion of the occasion had almost got to her.
"When I came on court, and heard the anthem, I felt like crying," she said.
"But I managed to get a grip on myself, I didn't play a spectacular match but I played calmly. I think I was solid.
"I felt more pressure in the last few days before the event with the whole build up and expectation."
Glatch played a couple of loose service games in the first set and was broken at 1-1 and 3-5.
She came out determinedly in the second set and after a marathon game she broke the Italian at the fifth attempt. But that proved a false dawn as it was the last game she won.
Pennetta rounded off victory by holding serve to love as she avenged her embarrassing 6-1, 6-1 defeat to the American in the first round at Roland Garros.
Glatch said Pennetta had improved since then.
"The conditions were also different. It was much quicker and hot that day and very dry, and I served extremely well, I remember," said the American.
"I was more aggressive in that match, and I probably should have tried to be in this match. I just wasn't able to do so. She definitely played better than she did last time."
World number 16 Schiavone made the most of a rain break to overcome her plucky opponent, who had already beaten two former world number ones in Grand Slams this year.
Oudin, 18, led 4-2 when the heavens opened but took a while to get into her rhythm when the players came back on court.
She said the pause helped her opponent.
"With rain delays, anything can happen. I think it definitely didn't really help me or not help me, but I think it definitely helped her," she said.
"She came out and started playing a lot better and wasn't missing anything when she came back out."
Schiavone broke in the first game after the break and Oudin had to dig in and save three break points in her next service game at 4-4.
It went to a tie break where 29-year-old Schiavone's experience told as Oudin gave up two mini-breaks with a failed drop-shot and then a wide forehand.
The Italian sealed the set with a forehand winner but was broken in her opening game of the second set.
She then reeled off five games in a row to take complete control of the second set before dropping serve for the third time in the match.
However, Oudin handed Schiavone match-point with a double fault and then netted a forehand as her resistence crumbled.
Schiavone suggested experience had been decisive.
"Of course I'm 29 and Flavia is 27. We've played together for the last five years," she said.
Pennetta will now have the first chance to wrap up a second Fed Cup title for Italy when she plays Oudin on Sunday before Schiavone tackles Glatch.
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