Tue, Feb 12, 2013 - Page 8 News List

Italy edge the US to set up Czech Republic showdown

AFP, PARIS

Three-time winners Italy edged a weakened US 3-2 on Sunday to reach the Fed Cup semi-finals and an April date with double defending champions the Czech Republic.

Italy, the champions in 2006, 2009 and 2010, needed top-ranked world doubles pair Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani to see them through on the clay courts of Rimini, winning 6-2, 6-2 against Liezel Huber and Varvara Lepchenko.

Earlier, Lepchenko, the world No. 21 making her Fed Cup debut in the absence of Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens, stunned Errani, the world No. 7, 7-5, 6-2 to give the US a surprise 2-1 lead.

However, Vinci then leveled the World Group first-round tie with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 triumph over Jamie Hampton.

Vinci also improved her perfect record in Fed Cup doubles to 18-0.

Petra Kvitova, the world No. 8, led holders the Czech Republic into the semi-finals by winning the crucial third rubber against Australia in Ostrava when she saved a match point in beating Samantha Stosur 2-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-4.

The Czech Republic, bidding to become the first country in 18 years to win three successive Fed Cup titles, eventually wrapped up the tie 4-0 when Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka beat Australian Open finalists Casey Dellacqua and 16-year-old Ashleigh Barty 6-0, 7-6 (7/1) in the doubles.

Italy host the semi-final against the Czech Republic on April 20 and April 21, while Russia welcome Slovakia.

Four-time winners Russia also went to the wire, coming back from 2-1 down to beat Japan 3-2 in Moscow when Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova cruised to a 6-2, 6-2 win over Ayumi Morita and Misaki Doi.

Russia and Japan had been locked at 1-1 overnight, before the Asian outsiders went 2-1 up when Morita defeated Vesnina, standing in for the unwell Maria Kirilenko, 6-4, 6-1.

Makarova then leveled at 2-2 by easing past veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-1, 6-1.

Slovakia knocked out last year’s runners-up Serbia in Belgrade.

After being 1-1 overnight, Daniela Hantuchova defeated Vesna Dolonc 6-3, 6-2 after teenager Jana Cepelova outlasted Bojana Jovanovski 5-7, 7-5, 11-9 in a 3 hour, 18 minute marathon.

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