Fed Cup: Daniela Hantuchova overcomes a struggling Sara Errani to give Slovakia the lead
Daniela Hantuchova scored her first top 50 win since 2015 defeating Sara Errani [Photo credit: Fed Cup official Twitter account]

In the third Fed Cup tie between Italy and SlovakiaDaniela Hantuchova didn't need to play her best tennis to overcome a very struggling Sara Errani in straight sets, with the final score of 6-2, 6-0. The Italian, who had just come back on court after a calf injury that had forced her to retire at the Australian Open, accused physical problems since the early games, and could barely move towards the end of the match; nevertheless, she remained on the court until the very end.

Hantuchova needed to overcome a not perfect start, but then played with consistency towards all the match to secure an important win for her team, that granted Slovakia 2-1 lead after the victory of Rebecca Sramkova on Errani and the one of Francesca Schiavone over Anna-Karolina Schmiedlova.

Sara Errani in action during the difficult game against Hantuchova [Photo credit: foto Costantini via Federtennis website]

Hantuchova plays with consistency to take the first set

Both players started with comfortable holds, and the Italian failed to take advantage of easy errors from Hantuchova in the first part of the set to gain the lead. The Slovakian found more consistency after the first two games, and went 0-40 up in the following game. Despite Errani’s effort to save all three break points, a fourth one eventually brought Slovakia the early lead.

After losing again three points in a row from 40-0 up, Hantuchova hit a good second serve to take the advantage in the game, and eventually succeeded to consolidate her lead.

Errani’s struggle continued as she went back on serve, wasting two important chances to hold, and suffering from Hantuchova’s aggressive shots to lose another service game.

Being 1-4 down, Errani left the court for a medical time-out, coming back with a band on the right thigh.

Hantuchova tried to take advantage of Errani’s struggling conditions, but the Italian didn't mean to make it easy for her, and gained one of the breaks back. The Slovakian quickly regained her consistency, leaving Errani only one point during the following game, and breaking her right back to take a 5-2 advantage and the chance to serve for the set.

Errani tried to fight and saved two set points, but eventually, two errors delivered the first set out to Slovakia, with a 6-2 score line.

Sara Errani and Daniela Hantuchova posing before their match  [Photo credit: foto Costantini via Federtennis website]

Errani struggling continued, Hantuchova storms ahead and wins the match

Errani's physical problems heavily affected her game during the first set and even more during the second one, that saw her barely moving on court to score points, and still needing to cope with Hantuchova's aggressive game. The Italian tried to fight back and avoid long rallies, but her opponent kept the control of the game, often scoring points with winners.

Despite saving three break points, Errani lost her serve to start the set, and her struggle to move on the court quickly made her fall 0-3 down. 

She kept fighting to try to prevent Hantuchova from increasing the lead, but seemed to lose all of her energies in the late part of the match. Broken to love and fallen 0-5 down, Errani needed to fight on return to stay in the match, but Hantuchova didn’t find any more problems and closed the match on her first match point with another winner.

Despite being in undeniable pain, Errani chose to stay on the court until the very end, but could nothing against an opponent who didn't fail to convert her chances during all the match. 

Italy's hopes to advance to World Group One playoffs will lay on Schiavone, who will need to win against Sramkova to allow her team to advance to the deciding doubles tie.