Germany, Czech Republic into Fed Cup final
Germany's Angelique Kerber hits a return against Australia's Sam Stosur during their match in the Fed Cup semi-final tie tennis match between Australia and Germany at Pat Rafter Arena in Brisbane on April 20, 2014 - by Patrick Hamilton
Germany completed a 3-1 victory over Australia in Brisbane while the Czechs, the 2011 and 2012 winners, defeated defending champions Italy 4-0 in Ostrava.
The Czech Republic will host the final on November 8-9.
Angelique Kerber put Germany into their first final in 22 years -- when Steffi Graf starred in the win over Spain -- with a fighting victory over Samantha Stosur.
World number seven Kerber fought back from dropping the opening set to beat former US Open champion Stosur 4-6, 6-0, 6-4 in two hours 14 minutes to give Germany an unassailable 3-0 lead.
The Australian pair of Casey Dellacqua and Ashleigh Barty prevented a wipe-out when they claimed the "dead" doubles rubber 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 10-2 over Julia Goerges and Anna-Lena Groenefeld.
"It’s a very special moment for me and the whole team," Kerber said.
"It feels great. I played a good match but it was a tough one because Sam was playing also very tough and I have never beaten her before."
Germany celebrated their victory by flying back to Europe in their pyjamas.
"We'll be flying home in pyjamas, that was the deal," Andrea Petkovic told SID, an AFP subsidiary, after the team had previously said they would don nightwear, which were gifts from the Australian team, for the 24-hour flight home via Dubai, if they won.
There was also a practical reason for the unusual dresscode.
After arriving in Germany, Kerber and Petkovic will fly straight to Stuttgart for the WTA claycourt tournament, which starts on Monday, and will need all the rest they can get for their matches on Tuesday or Wednesday.
"It was overall reasonably disappointing, especially when you don’t get through," Stosur said.
"I don’t know if I can fight any harder than I did in that match."
In Ostrava, Petra Kvitova, the world number six and a former Wimbledon champion, saw off 20th-ranked Roberta Vinci 6-3, 7-5 in an hour-and-a-half to hand the Czechs an unassailable 3-0 lead.
Klara Koukalova and Andrea Hlavackova then earned the fourth point for the hosts after beating Camila Giorgi and Karin Knapp 6-2, 5-7, 11-9 in the dead doubles rubber.
"I'm happy we've made it and it will be a pleasure for the whole country to host the final again," said Kvitova, praising her fellow players as "a superb team".
In the World Group play-offs, where the winners will play in the elite section in 2015, Russia, playing without Maria Sharapova, beat Argentina 4-0 in Winter Olympics host city Sochi.
In Barcelona, world number three Agnieszka Radwanska collected three points over the weekend as Poland edged Spain 3-2.
Radwanska won both her singles and then teamed up with Alicia Rosolska to beat Anabel Medina-Garrigues 6-4, 6-2 in the deciding doubles.
In Quebec City, Canada lead Slovakia 2-0 while the United States and France are 1-1 after Saturday's opening singles.