Tue, Sep 18, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Kuznetsova leads Russian team to Fed Cup victory

AP , MOSCOW

Svetlana Kuznetsova is feeling much better about her game and now Russia has a Fed Cup title to show for it.

Kuznetsova, routed by Justine Henin in the US Open last week, won Sunday's opening singles match to clinch the final with a 4-6, 7-6 (7), 7-5 win over Italy's Francesca Schiavone.

"I really wanted to bring the victory and this time it worked," Kuznetsova said.

Elena Vesnina defeated Mara Santangelo 6-2, 6-4 in the second match to make the final score 4-0.

This was the third title for Russia in the Fed Cup, the top team event in women's tennis. Russia also won in 2004 and 2005 and remained unbeaten in four matches against Italy. The Italians beat Belgium to win their first Fed Cup title last season.

Kuznetsova also won on the opening day of the Fed Cup.

"I didn't play as well as Saturday, but I could pull it out because of my strong will," she said.

The outcome was vastly different from the one at the US Open, where Kuznetsova lost to Henin 6-1, 6-3 in the title match. It helps, of course, that Kuznetsova clearly had a less formidable opponent in Schiavone, who is ranked No. 25 in the world.

Four Russian women are in the top 10 and the absence of injured Maria Sharapova did not prove to be a problem. Sharapova has never played in the Fed Cup for Russia, but she practiced with the team before the final and joined the victory celebration.

After trading breaks with Kuznetsova early in the first set, Schiavone won three consecutive games to take the first set.

"She made me play some very inconvenient tennis," Kuznetsova said.

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