AFP, Paris : Germany edged closer to their first Fed Cup final for 22 years on Saturday while the Czech Republic, twice champions in the last three years, looked certain to join them. Germany, who last won the competition in 1992 when Steffi Graf and Anke Huber starred in the team which defeated Spain, shrugged off the draining journey to Brisbane to open a 2-0 lead over Australia. In Ostrava, the Czech Republic, winners in 2011 and 2012, were also 2-0 to the good against defending champions Italy, shrugging off a 20-minute power cut in the process. Australia’s last final appearance was in 1993 while the most recent of their seven titles came way back in 1974 when Evonne Goolagong was in her pomp. After Saturday, that dismal run looks likely to continue unless they can sweep through Saturday’s reverse singles and doubles. Andrea Petkovic downed Australia’s number one and former US Open champion Samantha Stosur 6-1, 7-6 (9/7) in 101 minutes in the first singles rubber. World number seven Angelique Kerber then dropped just one game in disposing of Australia’s number two Casey Dellacqua in 50 minutes to seize control of the tie. “I saw two great matches and I was very proud of the performance of my two girls,” said German captain Barbara Rittner who played in her country’s 1992 title-wining team. While world number 28 Petkovic claimed Stosur faced a “tougher mental state” than her under the local spotlight, the Australian denied she succumbed to pressure. “I wasn’t overly nervous. I thought she came out hitting the ball very clean and deep-that puts you on the back foot,” said Stosur. “At least I was able to fight back. But at the end of the day that doesn’t really count for much.” Lucie Safarova and Petra Kvitova handed the Czech Republic a 2-0 lead over Italy in their semi-final. Safarova, the world number 26 and Czech number-two, swept 11th- ranked Italian number one Sara Errani 6-4, 6-1 in an hour and 11 minutes. It took sixth-ranked Kvitova five minutes longer to see off world number 54 Camila Giorgi 6-4, 6-2 despite action being held up for 20 minutes due to a power outage. “I was a little nervous at the start, I made mistakes too quickly,” said Safarova who let Errani take a 3-1 lead in the first set but then gave up only two games in the rest of the rubber. “I regained my focus, I started to follow the tactic I had set before the game and then it went well,” Safarova added. Former Wimbledon champion Kvitova, who hadn’t played for three weeks, said she “showed quite a solid performance after such a long time”. “I served well, and Camila wasn’t fast enough on the fast surface,” said Kvitova. In the World Group play-offs, where the winners will play in the elite section in 2015, Russia, without Maria Sharapova, took a 2-0 lead over Argentina in Winter Olympic host city Sochi. Elena Vesnina beat Paula Ormaechea 6-3, 6-3 before Ekaterina Makarova saw off Maria Irigoyen, the world 155, by 7-5, 6-1. In Barcelona, Spain and Poland were 1-1 after world number three Agnieszka Radwanska eased past Silvia Soler Espinosa 6-2, 6-2 to hand the Poles a 1-0 lead.