PARIS (AFP) - Defending champions Italy stood on the verge of elimination from the Fed Cup on Saturday after Russia, inspired by Svetlana Kuznetsova, moved into a comfortable 2-0 lead in their semi-final. Two-time Grand Slam winner Kuznetsova saw off Roberta Vinci 6-2, 6-7 (4/7), 6-1 in just under two hours, overcoming a second set lapse to motor through the decider after securing two early service breaks. Earlier, world number three Vera Zvonareva blasted Sara Errani 6-0, 6-2 to give the Russians first blood with her fourth win over Errani in as many meetings in just 56 minutes at Moscow's Megasport indoor arena. Russia will now hope to complete the job ahead of time with Sunday seeing the doubles and also the reverse singles. The other semi was finely poised, in contrast, with Belgium and the Czech Republic locked at 1-1. Petra Kvitova gave the visiting Czechs a 1-0 lead after defeating Kirsten Flipkens 6-2, 7-6 (7/4) but Yanina Wickmayer then levelled the encounter with a 6-4, 6-4 success over Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova in Charleroi. Kvitova, ranked 18 in the world, had to see off stiff resistance in the second set before outlasting 106th-ranked Flipkens. The Belgians are up against it this season as they try to overcome the recent retirement of Justine Henin -- the second time she has bowed out of the sport -- while world number two Kim Clijsters is currently injured. "If you look at the WTA standings, the Czechs are in a better position than we are, but our motivation is such that we really can make the final. Yanina and Kirsten are perfectly prepared," insisted Belgian skipper Sabine Appelmans. In the World Group I play-offs, 17-time champions the United States, beaten by the Italians in both of the last two finals, were facing a huge battle to come back against Germany after Andrea Petkovic and Julia Goerges gave the hosts a 2-0 lead in Stuttgart with straight sets wins. Hosts Germany enjoy a 2-0 lead in their Fed Cup play-off against the United States following Saturday's action as both Australian Open quarter-finalist Andrea Petkovic and Julia Goerges won their rubbers. Petkovic, 23, needed just 95 minutes to see off teenager Christina McHale, 18, to give the hosts an early lead after sealing a 6-3, 6-4 victory. The Americans are missing a trio of injured names here, including both the Williams sisters -- Serena and Venus Williams -- as well as Bethanie Mattek-Sands, ranked 41st in the world. US teenager Melanie Oudin, ranked 81st in the world, put up a brief fight in the second set, but the 19-year-old also succumbed in straight sets to a 6-2, 7-6 (7/5) defeat to Goerges. Petkovic will play against Oudin in the singles today, before Goerges takes on McHale, who had recently made the quarter-finals of the WTA tournament in Charleston. In the doubles match, Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Sabine Lisicki will play Liezel Huber and Vania King of the United States. Results: World Group I semi-finals Russia 2 Italy 0 Vera Zvonareva (RUS) bt Sara Errani (ITA). Kuznetsova (RUS) bt Roberta Vinci (ITA). Belgium 1 Czech Republic 0 Kvitova (CZE) bt Flipkens (BEL). World Group I play-offs (winners into Group I, losers in Group II) Germany 2 United States 0 Petkovic (GER) bt McHale (USA). Julia Goerges (GER) bt Oudin (USA). Spain 1 France 1 Martinez (ESP) bt Virginie Razzano (FRA). Rezai (FRA) bt Medina Garrigues (ESP). Slovakia 1 Serbia 0 Cibulkova (SVK) bt Jovanovski (SRB). Australia 1 Ukraine 1 Tsurenko (UKR) bt Rodionova (AUS). Groth (AUS) bt Olga Savchuk (UKR). World Group II play-offs (winners into Group II, losers into Zone Group I Belarus 2 Estonia 0 Azarenka (BLR) bt Anett Kontaveit (EST). Govortsova (BLR) bt Margit Ruutel (EST). Slovenia 1 Canada 1 Marino (CAN) bt Masa Zec-Peskiric (SLO). Hercog (SLO) bt Eugenie Bouchard (CAN). Switzerland 2 Sweden 0 Bacsinszky (SUI) bt Larsson (SWE). Schnyder (SUI) bt Arvidsson (SWE).