Lepchenko edges Vinci to level Fed Cup tie for U.S.
RIMINI, Italy (AP)—American Varvara Lepchenko won in her Fed Cup singles debut to lift the United States to a 1-1 tie against Italy on Saturday.
In other Group I first-round matches, the Czech Republic led Australia 2-0, while Slovakia-Serbia and Japan-Russia were tied 1-1.
Lepchenko rallied past Roberta Vinci 2-6, 6-4, 7-5 after Sara Errani defeated Jamie Hampton 6-2, 6-1.
Vinci struggled with a leg cramp in the final set, which had seven breaks of serve. She had treatment on her left thigh and rallied from 5-1 down in the third to tie it 5-5.
Lepchenko broke back and served out the match.
The seventh-ranked Errani needed just over an hour to win over the 64th-ranked Hampton.
The doubles on Sunday will feature Melanie Oudin and Liezel Huber against Nastassja Burnett and Karin Knapp.
Varvara Lepchenko will play Errani in reverse singles.
Serena and Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens are injured, so Hampton and Lepchenko made their Fed Cup singles debuts. Veterans Francesca Schiavone and Flavia Pennetta, who have struggled lately, were left off Italy's squad.
Italy beat the U.S. in back-to-back Fed Cup finals in 2009 and 2010.
In Ostrava, Czech Republic, Petra Kvitova defeated Jarmila Gajdosova 7-6 (2), 6-3 before Lucie Safarova edged Sam Stosur 7-6 (6), 7-6 (4). The Czechs are one win away from the semifinals against Italy or the United States.
In Nis, Serbia, Dominika Cibulkova led Vesna Dolonc 6-4, 5-4 when a leg muscle strain forced her to retire after Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova defeated Bojana Jovanovski 7-5, 6-2.
In Moscow, Ayumi Morita beat Ekaterina Makarova 6-2, 6-2, and Maria Kirilenko defeated veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm 7-6 (3), 6-4.