Italy cruise to Fed Cup title
Cagliari - Italy have cruised to a fourth Fed Cup title on Sunday when Sara Errani gave the hosts an unassailable 3-0 lead with a comprehensive 6-1, 6-1 victory over Russian Alisa Kleybanova.
Roberta Vinci and world number seven Errani had given Italy, the champions in 2006, 2009 and 2010, a 2-0 lead on Saturday with victories over Alexandra Panova and Irina Khromachava respectively.
Italy's Fed Cup captain Corrado Barazzuti thanked his squad for their contribution to the victory but stressed that his players were the "true stars".
"They're a great group of players and they've put us into the history books of the sport," said Barazzuti.
"Sara was well focused on her final match... and in any case she's a true champion. Everyone, from the coaches to the medical staff, contributed to this but the players remain the true stars."
Kleybanova represented the depleted Russian team's last chance to rescue their bid ahead of the final singles and concluding doubles rubbers later Sunday.
However despite showing glimpses of promise, notably a powerful serve which at times Errani struggled to return, the 24-year-old Russian was outclassed by the more experienced Italian.
Errani, 26, had the Cagliari Tennis Club in jubilant mood after racing to a 6-1 victory in the first set and although Kleybanova rallied in the second to take the third game on serve, Errani was never under threat.
The Italian broke Kleybanova to take a 4-1 lead when the Russian sent a wild return into the tramlines.
And after reinforcing her advantage in the next game the Italian finished in style, breaking Kleybanova's serve when the Russian fumbled a return at the net in the seventh and final game to secure the win.
Vinci was due to meet Khromacheva in the final singles rubber however given Italy's win it was not played.
The dead doubles rubber was to be played Sunday between Flavia Pennetta and Karin Knapp of Italy and Margarita Gasparyan and Khromachava.
Four-time champions Russia went into the final missing the injured Maria Sharapova while fellow top-30 players Maria Kirilenko, Elena Vesnina and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova opted instead to chase points and prize money at the WTA Tournament of Champions in Sofia.
Results from the Fed Cup final between Italy and Russia at the Tennis Club Cagliari on Sunday:
Sara Errani (ITA) bt Alisa Kleybanova (RUS) 6-1, 6-1
Roberta Vinci (ITA) v Irina Khromacheva (RUS) - not played
Karin Knapp/Flavia Pennetta (ITA) bt Margarita Gasparyan/Irina Khromacheva (RUS) 4-6, 6-2, 10-4
Roberta Vinci (ITA) bt Alexandra Panova (RUS) 5-7, 7-5, 8-6
Sara Errani (ITA) bt Irina Khromachava (RUS) 6-1, 6-4