The Spanish team’s 1-3 defeat at the hands of Slovakia in the Fed Cup play-offs means that the Arantxa Sánchez Vicario led side drops down a category. Serbia and the Czech Republic will fight it out in the grand final of the competition.
Spain came close to avoiding elimination from the World Group in the Federations Cup, however, in the end logic prevailed and the Slovaks did as expected to gain promotion to the category.
After Dominika Cibulkova and Silvia Soler’s victories on Saturday the play-off was tied at 1-1, but in the opening match on Sunday, Soler suffered a defeat as Cibulkova showed her ability on clay to win the tight encounter 6-4, 6-4.
Saturday’s two defeated players, Spain’s Lourdes Domínguez and Daniela Hantuchova, had a rescue mission on their hands and as a result staged a thrilling duel, which ended in a Slovakian victory. Domínguez started off brilliantly to take the first set with a comprehensive 6-0 win, but Hantuchova reacted well in a very tight second. After a lot of back and forth, the Spaniard was just two points away from winning the match, but Hantuchova forced a tiebreak that allowed her to tie the score 1-1.
In the third set, the veteran used her vast experience to her advantage and broke her opponent’s serve which led to her winning the match 0-6, 7-6, 6-4. This victory meant that there was no need for a definitive doubles match. Slovakia now returns to the World Group I, which it won for the one and only time in 2002, also against Spain. Meanwhile, Spain drops out of the elite category and will have to wait until next year to attempt its return.
The tournament’s reigning champions, the Czech Republic, will have the opportunity to defend their title in the final this year, where they will take on Serbia. The Czechs comfortably beat Italy, the dominant team in the competition over the past few years, with a 4-1 score line. The victory was thanks in big part to the world number three, Petra Kvitova, winning two of her matches.
The Czechs’ rival in the final is Serbia who will be fighting to lift this title for the first time. The Serbians secured their place thanks to a historic home victory over Russia in which Jelena Jankovic played out of her skin. The final will take place in the Czech Republic on 3 and 4 November.