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Page last updated at 22:50 GMT, Sunday, 6 February 2011

Great Britain women beat Croatia in Fed Cup play-off

Elena Baltacha
Baltacha was thrilled with Great Britain's victory

Great Britain's women have finished fifth in the Fed Cup Europe/Africa Zone Group One after a 2-0 play-off win over Croatia in Israel on Saturday.

Heather Watson beat Silvia Njiric 6-2 7-5 before Elena Baltacha saw off Ajla Tomljanovic 6-2 6-3.

With GB taking an unassailable lead in the best-of-three tie, it was decided not to play the doubles rubber.

Baltacha, who has struggled recently with a knee problem, said it was "lovely to be back on court".

The British number one wrote on her Twitter page: "Always a privilege to have Great Britain on my back - loved it."

Great Britain's loss to Switzerland and win over Denmark earlier in the week had ensured that they would remain in the same group of the competition for another year.

Elsewhere, Francesca Schiavone repeated her French Open final triumph over Samantha Stosur as Fed Cup holders Italy sealed a 4-1 victory over Australia in their World Group last-eight tie on Sunday.

Yesterday we could have been 2-0 or 0-2, so we are happy to have won 3-1. It was tough for everyone because both teams are so good

Italy's Flavia Pennetta

With the best-of-five match tied at 1-1 after Saturday's singles, world number four Schiavone prevailed 7-6 3-6 7-5 before Flavia Pennetta beat Jarmila Groth 6-3 6-2 to give Italy their first win against Australia in six attempts.

The doubles rubber was academic, although it did allow Italy's Roberta Vinci to equal a competition record as she and Sara Errani beat Anastasia Rodionova and Rennae Stubbs. It was Vinci's 16th consecutive victory in Fed Cup doubles action.

"Yesterday we could have been 2-0 or 0-2, so we are happy to have won," said Pennetta. "It was tough for everyone because both teams are so good."

Italy will next meet Russia, who completed a dramatic comeback from 2-0 down to defeat France 3-2 in Moscow, recovering from opening day defeats for Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova beat Alize Cornet 3-6 6-3 6-2, Kuznetsova defeated Virginia Razzano 6-4 6-4, and Dinara Safina and Pavlyuchenkova then won the decisive doubles 7-6 (7-4) 6-0 against Julie Coin and Pauline Parmentier.

I lack confidence - it's a question of time, I have to play more

Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova

In the other half of the draw, Australian Open champion Kim Clijsters beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-7 (10-12) 6-2 6-1 in Antwerp to give Belgium an unassailable 3-0 lead against the United States, and the hosts went on to wrap up a 4-1 victory.

They will next face the Czech Republic, who reached their third consecutive Fed Cup semi-final after opening up an unassailable 3-0 lead over neighbours Slovakia.

Lucia Safarova beat Daniela Hantuchova 7-5 6-1, Petra Kvitova saw off Dominika Cibulkova 6-2 6-3 and, on Sunday, Kvitova triumphed 6-4 6-2 against Hantuchova.

"It was one of my best performances in the Fed Cup," said Australian Open quarter-finalist Kvitova. "We came here in great shape while she [Hantuchova] is still not in her best form."

Hantuchova, who has only recently recovered from an Achilles tendon injury, added: "I lack confidence. It's a question of time. I have to play more.

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see also
Watson & Rae give Britain victory
04 Feb 11 |  Tennis
British women lose Fed Cup opener
02 Feb 11 |  Tennis
Heather Watson column
01 Feb 11 |  Tennis
Watson rises into women's top 150
11 Jan 11 |  Tennis
GB teens set for Fed Cup debuts
18 Dec 10 |  Tennis
GB end Fed Cup campaign with loss
06 Feb 10 |  Tennis
Britain beat Belarus in Fed Cup
05 Feb 10 |  Tennis

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