HOBART, Australia, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- Australian Jarmila Groth and Italian Flavia Pennetta beat Top 5 players Saturday as the countries split the first two matches of their Fed Cup quarterfinal.
Groth opened the best-of-series with a 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 6-3 victory over world No. 4 Francesca Schiavone but Pennetta answered with a 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (5-7), 6-4 win over fifth-ranked Samantha Stosur.
Italy will need to win two of the three matches Sunday for a chance to win its third consecutive Fed Cup title. Sunday's schedule calls for reverse singles with Schiavone going against Stosur in a rematch of the 2010 French Open final, which was won by Schiavone. Pennetta faces Groth in the other singles match.
If those are also split, the series will be decided by a doubles match between the Italian team of Sara Errani and Roberta and Australians Anastasia Rodionova and Rennae Stubbs.
Groth, playing her first Fed Cup match, gave Australia the early advantage despite losing the first set and falling behind 0-2 in the second set. But she won eight of the next nine games -- winning five straight in one stretch -- and finally won the match on her fifth match point.
Stosur served for the first set at 5-3 but lost and the third set turned on a series of breaks that Pennetta managed to capitalize on. It was the first match victory for Italy over Australia in six Davis Cup series.