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Page last updated at 15:09 GMT, Saturday, 26 April 2008 16:09 UK

Russia & Spain lead Fed Cup semis

Svetlana Kuznetsova
World number four Kuznetsova put Russia in total command

Russia are closing in on their fourth Fed Cup final in five years after winning both singles rubbers on the opening day against USA in Moscow.

Anna Chakvetadze beat Vania King 6-4 7-5 before Svetlana Kuznetsova saw off Fed Cup debutant Ahsha Rolle 6-2 6-1.

Five-time winners Spain made an identical start in their semi-final against China in Beijing.

Carla Suarez-Navarro upset Peng Shuai 6-3 7-6 (7-4) while Nuria Llagostera Vives overcame Zheng Jie 6-3 6-4.

Both Russia and Spain require one win from three rubbers on Sunday to meet each other in September's final.

Despite the absence of world number three Maria Sharapova, the Russians made a blistering start against a USA side deprived of Venus and Serena Williams and Lindsay Davenport, who opted against making the trip.


World number four Kuznetsova dominated Rolle, ranked 145, making two breaks in the first set and reeling off five consecutive games in the second.

King, comprehensively beaten by Chakvetadze at the same stage last year, was more competitive on this occasion, saving two match points at 4-5, but failed to take her chances.

"When she saved two match points I was really disappointed," said Chakvetadze. "I lost concentration."

"She did not create anything special but she played consistently through the whole of the match."

Spain, meanwhile, will be confident of reaching the final for the first time since 2002 after 19-year-old Suarez, ranked 132, surprised the world number 68 Shuai and Llagostera eased to an expected victory over Zheng.

Carla Suarez-Navarro
Suarez-Navarro is ranked 64 places lower than Peng Shuai

China, making their first ever semi-final appearance, were unable to make the most of playing on fast, hard courts at the indoor International Tennis Centre against opponents noted for their preference for clay.

But Zheng claimed her side were still in with a chance of becoming the first Asian nation to reach the final.

"If we can get to the tie-break game tomorrow in the doubles, I think we have the chance to win," said the world number 206.

"Peng Shuai's match will be very difficult [against Llagostera] but I think she will do everything to win."

Peng conceded Suarez had "performed quite well, and especially on one or two key points" but vowed that the tie was not yet over.

see also
Sharapova to miss Fed Cup semis
31 Mar 08 |  Tennis

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