Italy made an emphatic start to the defense of their Fed Cup title with a comfortable 4-1 victory over Australia in their quarter-final tie in Hobart yesterday.
Flavia Pennetta extended her winning streak in the competition to 10 matches with a 6-3, 6-2 triumph over Jarmila Groth following Francesca Schiavone’s 7-6 (7/1), 3-6, 7-5 win over Samantha Stosur in yesterday’s first reverse singles rubber.
Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani saved two match-points to fight back and beat the Australian combination of Rennae Stubbs and Anastasia Rodionova, 2-6, 7-6 (7/1), 6-4 in the dead doubles rubber.
Groth registered a fighting 6-7 (4/7), 6-3, 6-3 comeback win over French Open champion Schiavone in her Cup debut for Australia on Saturday, but she was outclassed by Pennetta with the tie on the line.
Heading into a rematch of her meeting with Stosur in last year’s French Open final, Schiavone had spent a total of nine hours, 20 minutes on court in her three previous matches over the past fortnight.
However, the redoubtable Schiavone staved off 11 break points and broke Stosur’s serve for the only time in the last game of the match to give Italy the winning edge.
On Saturday Maria Sharapova’s first Fed Cup appearance in three years ended in tame defeat on as Russia went 2-0 down to France in their World Group quarter-final clash in Moscow.
Sharapova lost 6-3, 6-4 to Virginie Razzano after Alize Cornet had earlier given the visitors a 1-0 lead, producing a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 triumph over Svetlana Kuznetsova.
In Antwerp, Belgium, Australian Open champion Kim Clijsters and Yanina Wickmayer put Belgium 2-0 ahead of the US.
Wickmayer beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-1, 7-6 (8/6) and Clijsters defeated Melanie Oudin 6-0, 6-4.
Runners-up for the last two years, the US are playing without the injured Williams sisters.
“It was fun to be out here playing again,” Clijsters said. “Obviously it’s nice to come here and play after a win because the people have been so supportive. I’ve kept them up during the night with the time change with Australia and it’s nice to be back here, but I do look forward to having a few days off.”
The winners of the tie will face either the Czech Republic or Slovakia in the last four.
The Czechs opened up a 2-0 lead after the first day in Bratislava thanks to straight sets wins for Lucie Safarova and Petra Kvitova.
‘GREAT EVENING‘: In the women’s singles in Rome, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova advanced, while Rafael Nadal swept into the quarters in the men’s singles Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Friday had to dig deep to advance to the semi-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The top seeds, who did not drop a game in their opening match on the clay courts at the Foro Italico, battled to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over sixth seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Katerina Siniakova in 1 hour, 39 minutes. The reigning Wimbledon champions saved nine of 11 break points and converted three of eight, winning 56 percent of points on their second serve and sending down two aces
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
‘FUN TIME’: Denver’s Nikola Jokic said that his team would not accept that anyone else is better than them and the opposition need to play much better than they do Just about everyone had LA versus LA written in for the NBA’s Western Conference finals, but the resilient Denver Nuggets have crashed the party. Behind Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets advanced to the conference finals for the first time since 2009 to face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Game 1 is scheduled to be played tomorrow. This was no ordinary road. The Nuggets fell behind 3-1 in their first-round series against the Utah Jazz before bouncing back with three straight victories. Then they went down 3-1 to the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round before winning in Game 7
‘GREAT COMPETITOR’: Former French Open champion Garbine Muguruza was tested by American teenager Coco Gauff, before the Spaniard advanced in three sets Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Thursday cruised into the quarter-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia by handing their Japanese opponents a rare “double bagel,” a feat matched by US Open losing finalist Victoria Azarenka in the women’s singles. Top seeds Hsieh and Strycova took just 49 minutes to see off the challenge of Japanese duo Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya 6-0, 6-0 on the clay courts at the Foro Italico in Rome. The Taiwanese-Czech duo saved both break points they faced and converted six of 14, winning 62 percent of their first