Sun, Feb 03, 2008 - Page 24 News List

China set up a 2-0 Fed Cup lead against France

AFP , BEIJING

China's Li Na hits a forehand return against Alize Cornet of France during a their Fed Cup World Group first-round match in Beijing yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

China won both singles matches on the first day of their Federation Cup World Group tie against France yesterday to go 2-0 up and stake a strong claim for a place in the last four of the competition.

China need only to win one more match from the two reverse singles and the doubles today to clinch a place in the semi-finals against Spain or Italy as they look for a morale-boosting victory on home soil ahead of the August Olympics.

China's No. 1 Li Na beat 18-year-old Alize Cornet 6-3, 6-1 in the first rubber to put China one-up. Their No. 2, Peng Shuai, then ran out 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 winner over the top-ranked French player here, Virginie Razzano.

But they will have to play on without Peng, 22, who was flying off to France later yesterday to meet a commitment to take part in another women's tournament.

"Li Na will be playing the first singles tomorrow and if she wins that will wrap up the victory for China and they won't even need me anyway," she said.

JAPAN 1, CROATIA 1

AFP, MIKI, JAPAN

Japan and Croatia were tied at 1-1 after the singles matches on the opening day of the Fed Cup World Group II first round yesterday.

Akiko Morigami of Japan, who won her first WTA singles title in Prague last season, got off to a disastrous start before steadying herself to beat Nika Ozegovic 2-6, 7-5, 6-1, and put Japan one up.

Ozegovic, ranked 145th against Morigami's 46th, took the first set and moved up 2-0 in the second, but the Japanese star came back to win and she was never in trouble in the final set, although she needed five match points to close it out in 2 hours, 31 minutes.

Croatia's Jelena Kostanic Tosic came to the rescue of her team by beating Aiko Nakamura 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to even the best-of-five contest in just over two hours. Tomorrow will see two reverse singles matches on the indoor hard court in Kobe, followed by the doubles match, which pits Ayumi Morita and Rika Fujiwara against Kostanic Tosic and Ana Vrljic.

UZBEKISTAN 2, NZ 1

AFP, BANGKOK

Uzbekistan won a spot in the Fed Cup World Group II for the first time after beating New Zealand 2-1 in the Asia/Oceania zone women's play-off in Bangkok yesterday.

Iroda Tulyaganova, 26, defeated New Zealand's Sacha Jones in the first singles match, but the team's hope for a place in the elite group looked grim after Uzbekistan's top player, Akgul Amanmuradova, lost to Marina Erakovic.

But Tulyaganova and Amanmuradova, 23, bounced back in the doubles to take the second and third set, which were decided by tie-breaks, to clinch an overall 2-1 win in Group I.

Meanwhile, Taiwan finished third due to a walkover as Australian players withdrew from their games injured.

Australia, who suffered a surprise loss to Indonesia, finished fourth. They were outed from World Group II last year.

Indonesia beat hosts Thailand 2-1, while India narrowly defeated Hong Kong 2-1 to finish seventh in Group I.

South Korea were promoted to next year's Asia/Ocenia Zone Group I after beating Kazakhstan.

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