The 51st annual Fed Cup World Group came to a close on Sunday as Sara Errani moved to take Italy above and beyond their Russian challengers.
The Italian women's team had already held a 2-0 lead from Saturday's action but completed their Russia routing with another two back-to-back victories the following day.
It was Sara Errani who took the spotlight this weekend, triumphing against Irina Khromacheva before also going on to beat Alisa Kleybanova, both in straight sets.
In fairness, Russia were without a lot of their more talented stars for this competition, Maria Sharapova, Nadia Petrova, Maria Kirilenko and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova being just some of those to miss out through injury and other commitments.
The Italians will care little for excuses, however, winning their fourth Fed Cup in the space of eight years and continuing their ascendancy in the public eye.
|Match||Matchup||Game 1||Game 2||Game 3||Score|
|1||Roberta Vinci vs. Alexandra Ponova||5-7||7-5||8-6||2-1 (Italy)|
|2||Sara Errani vs. Irina Khromacheva||6-1||6-4||N/A||2-0 (Italy)|
|3||Sara Errani vs. Alisa Kleybanova||6-1||6-1||N/A||2-0 (Italy)|
|4||Roberta Vinci vs. Irina Khromacheva||N/a||N/a||N/a||Not Played|
|5||Karin Knapp/Flavia Pennetta vs. Margarita Gasparyan/Irina Khromacheva||4-6||6-2||10-4||2-1 (Italy)|
Errani Shines as Cream of the Crop
Having won one of her two matches against the Czech Republic back in April, No. 7 Errani had already given her side a great push in overcoming the reigning Fed Cup champions and current No. 1 ranked women's team.
However, it was the 26-year-old's gleaming performances on the Cagliari clay against Russia this weekend that really stood out for Corrado Barazzutti's star player, the woman who surrendered only seven points across her four games.
Matt Cronin made a point of the Italian's dominance:
Credit to Errani though: super solid today, managed match near perfectly. She's a hell of a clay court player— Matt Cronin (@TennisReporters) November 3, 2013
Admittedly, the veteran was lucky enough to be coming up against inferior opposition—Khromacheva is 176 places below her in the world standings—but Errani didn't show signs of crumbling under expectation.
Per the official Fed Cup website, Errani commented on her recent victories following Italy's 4-0 win over the Russians, stating:
We are very happy. It was a very good week for us. I am happy with how I played. I know Alisa, she is a great player, so with a lot of tension every point was important for us and it was not easy but I am really happy. I was focused on every point, there was tension, there is a lot of people here and it means a lot for us.
Home advantage, as Errani hints, will have undoubtedly played its role in the triumph, an eagerness not to lose in front of a home support being a major boost for some.
That being said, it was the victor's experience that rose to the fore just when it mattered most for Errani and her team, who will now take some time to bask in the glory of their third Fed Cup title in five years.