Italy beat two-time defending champions Russia in the Fed Cup semifinals and will host the United States in the final in November.
Italy, the 2006 champions, defeated Russia after Francesca Schiavone’s hard-fought 7-6 4-6 6-2 victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova gave Italy an unassailable 3-1 advantage (Italy eventually won 4-1).
That one victory of Russia, winner of four of the last five Fed Cups, came thanks to Svetlana Kuznetsova who blasted away Flavia Pennetta 6-0 6-3.
The United States edged hosts Czech Republic 3-2 in the other semifinal in Brno with Liezel Huber and Bethanie Mattek-Sands recovering from losing the first set to defeat Iveta Benesova and Kveta Peschke 2-6 7-6 6-1 in the deciding doubles rubber.
People laughed at those of us who said there would be an upset. I say they should have been paying attention.