Ostrava, Czech Republic: The Czech Republic took a 1-0 lead over defending champion Italy in the Fed Cup semifinals Saturday after Lucie Safarova defeated Sara Errani 6-4, 6-1 in the opening singles match.
The 26th-ranked Safarova converted her first match point with a return winner to complete the victory over her 11th-ranked opponent.
"It's an important victory for our team," said Safarova, who improved to 2-1 against Errani.
The Czech played aggressively from the start on the fast indoor hard-court at the CEZ Arena, hitting 33 winners to Errani's four.
The opening set saw both players losing their serve twice in the first five games. Errani then double-faulted in the ninth game to lose her serve for the third time and Safarova clinched the set with a service winner.
"I was nervous at the beginning and made some mistakes," Safarova said. "But then I managed to focus on my game. I went aggressively for the points."
Errani continued in the same fashion in the final set, losing her three service games.
Sixth-ranked Petra Kvitova plays Saturday's second singles for the host against the 54th-ranked Camila Giorgi.