Russia torpedoed Spain’s hope for a Federation Cup trophy by convincingly winning all four matches in the finals to defend its title in Madrid, Spain.
Saturday’s first rubber featured Russian Vera Zvonareva against Anabel Medina Garrigues, Spain’s top ranked singles player. After putting Garrigues on the defensive and making some spectacular forehand passes, Zvonareva built a 3-0 lead. But, the Russian committed several unforced errors, inviting Garrigues back in the match 3-2. Yet, after leading in her service game 40-15, Garrigues produced two miscues on the forehand and crosscourt backhand to let Russia gain the upper hand 4-2. Then, with a forehand down the line, Zvonareva secured the first set 6-3.
After taking a 2-0 lead in the second set, Zvonareva played two back-to-back poor service games and relinquished a break to Spain 2-4. Nevertheless, aided by Garrigues’ own misfiring, Zvonareva connected on a crosscourt forehand winner to get back on serve 3-4. Subsequently, Zvonareva pressured her opponent resulting in unforced errors to regain the break advantage. Ultimately, Zvonareva easily closed out the first rubber with a forehand crosscourt winner 6-4.
The second rubber between Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro and Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova gave the home team even less to cheer. The first game set the tone with Navarro broken at love. Navarro attempted to mix things up by coming to net, but her backhand repeatedly failed her resulting in Russia building a 4-0 advantage. With a forehand crosscourt winner, Kuznetsova took the first set 6-3. Using her weighty groundstrokes and versatility, Kuznetsova bullied Navarro to effortlessly win the second set 6-1 and give Russia a two match lead going into Sunday.
On Sunday, Garrigues faced Kuznetsova in the initial match. After racing to a 4-0 lead in the first set, Kuznetsova’s game went on a walkabout allowing Garrigues to comeback. Garrigues fought off five set points against her serve before prevailing 7-5. But, the home team’s elation was short-lived as Kuznetsova produced a forehand down the line winner to break 5-3 in the second set then served two aces to seal the set 6-3. In the third set, Russia got a prompt break thanks to multiple unforced errors from Spain. However, Spanish hope was rekindled when Garrigues forced an error from Kuznetsova to level things at 3-3. Yet, with a sensational drop shot Kuznetsova got the break right back 4-3. Eventually, Kuznetsova hung on to serve out the match with a strong game and clinched another Federation trophy for Russia 6-4.
The fourth rubber featuring doubles play was a technicality. Once again, the Russian team mowed over its Spanish counterpart, who looked out of sorts, with crisp volleys and strong groundstrokes 6-2, 6-1. This represents Russia’s fourth title in five years.