MOSCOW, Sep 15 (Reuters) Russia's Anna Chakvetadze beat Francesca Schiavone 6-4 4-6 6-4 in the opening singles today to give the home team a 1-0 lead over holders Italy in the Fed Cup final.
In a match filled with numerous unforced errors, world number five Chakvetadze recovered her poise after going 3-0 down in the third set to earn a hard-fought victory after two hours 15 minutes.
After a slow start, the 20-year-old Russian secured a decisive break in the seventh game and took the first set.
But the combative Schiavone, the heroine of Italy's 3-2 semi-final victory over France in July when she won all three of her matches, fought back in the second.
The final set saw the momentum shifting, with the 25th-ranked Italian breaking Chakvetadze to go 3-0 ahead before the Russian returned the favour in the fifth game.
Chakvetadze finally found her range and broke again in the ninth game before clinching victory on her second match point.
World number two Svetlana Kuznetsova takes on Italy number two Mara Santangelo in the second singles rubber later today.
REUTERS PDS PM1905