Spain retain Fed Cup

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Spain won the Fed Cup for the third year running when they defeated the United States in the final in Valencia yesterday. Conchita Martinez's victory over Mary Joe Fernandez in straight sets secured an unassailable 3-0 lead in the best-of-five final.

Martinez won 6-3, 6-4 in one hour 18 minutes, but Fernandez had chances to take command and keep the contest alive. She consistently failed to hold serve after breaking Martinez numerous times on the slow red-clay surface.

Spain took a 2-0 lead after Saturday's singles as Martinez, the world No 2, defeated Chanda Rubin 7-5, 7-6, and world No 3, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, defeated Fernandez 6-3, 6-2.

Spain have now won the Fed Cup four times and have been in the final six times in seven years. The Americans have not won since 1990, although they hold the record of 14 victories.

In the ''dead'' rubbers, Rubin, a replacement for the injured Monica Seles, defeated Sanchez Vicario 1-6, 6-4, 6-4. In the doubles, Americans Gigi Fernandez and Lindsay Davenport beatVirginia Ruano-Pascual and Maria Sanchez Lorenzo.