Photo: Dusan HeinGerman teams celebrates
Slovak Republic will have it all to do on the second day of their Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group first round tie against Germany having lost both singles rubbers on the opening day of competition.
Andrea Petkovic was first up against Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova and the latter promtly opened up a one set lead after just 36 minutes.
The former world No. 9, Petkovic, took an early break in the second but failed to confirm as she was broken straight back and proceeded to hold serve twice to stay in the match before a tie-break that turned out to be the turning point of the tie so far.
Having fallen to a 6-1 deficit Cibulkova pulled out six straight outstanding points to set up a match point to give the hosts the lead in Bratislava. A backhand dumped into the net from Cibulkova seemed to mark the beginning of the end for the Slovak hopes as Pekovic took the next two points and broke twice early in the decider before serving out a 26 76(7) 62 victory.
Angelique Kerber then edged out Daniela Hantuchova 76(9) 61 to double the lead and put the visitors into a commanding position needing to win just one of Sunday's three rubbers to progress to a first World Group semifinal since 1995.
Elsewhere Italy forged ahead of USA in Cleveland thanks to Karin Knapp and then a dominant display from Camila Giorgi as she took apart the American No. 1 Madison Keys.
Australia also took a 2-0 lead on the first day against a depleted Russian side as Samantha Stosur and Casey Dellacqua brushed aside Irina Khromacheva and Veronika Kudermetova respectively.
The final World Group tie in Seville was hit by heavy rain on the first day but there was just enough time for Carla Suarez Navarro to defeat Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 61 64 to put Spain ahead against Czech Republic. The final four rubbers will be played on Sunday.
In World Group II Canada and Argentina both enter Sunday with 2-0 leads at home against Serbia and Japan. The other two ties both finished level on day one with Sweden taking the opening rubber against Poland before Agnieszka Radwanska ensured it was level pegging overnight. In Paris, meanwhile, Virginie Razzano dropped just three games in victory over Stefanie Voegele before Belinda Bencic showed her potential in a 75 64 win against Alize Cornet.
Full reports from each of this weekends ties can be found below:
World Group first round
USA 0-2 Italy
Spain 1-0 Czech Republic
Slovak Republic 0-2 Germany
Australia 2-0 Russia
World Group II first round
Canada 2-0 Serbia
Sweden 1-1 Poland
France 1-1 Switzerland
Argentina 2-0 Japan