Belgium, Spain, Czech Republic and US advance in Fed Cup

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The Independent Online

Belgium beats Russia to advance to the semi-finals

Belgium joined Spain, the Czech Republic and the host United States in November's Fed Cup semi-finals and finals, ousting Russia 2-1 today in Moscow to reach the final four.

Belgium, with its tie even at 1-1, won the doubles to advance as Els Callens and Laurence Courtois defeated Anna Kournikova and Elena Likhovtseva 6-4, 6-3.

Callens said she told herself before the doubles victory: "It's gonna be over my dead body, I will not lose this match."

Belgium's other star was 16-year-old Kim Clijsters, who downed 18-year-old Russian Anna Kournikova in singles 5-7, 6-2, 6-4.

Likhovtseva gave Russia a 1-0 lead, beating Courtois 6-4, 6-4. But Clijsters fought back to even the tie and set up the deciding doubles match.

With top Belgians Dominique Van Roost and Sabine Appelmans not participating in the World Group C round-robin, Belgium hadn't been the favourite to beat France, Russia and Australia.

Belgium finished 3-0 in the four-team Group C in Moscow. France was 2-1, Russia 1-2 and Australia 0-3. At 0-3, Australia was relegated to qualifying round play

The semi-finals and finals of the Fed Cup will be played from November 22-26 in the United States. A venue has not been announced.

The other two groups winners were decided on Saturday.

In Group B in Bratislava, Slovakia, the Czech Republic finished 3-0 to advance. In Group A in Bari, Italy, Spain also moved on 3-0.

In today's only tie in Bratislava, Austria defeated Slovakia 2-1, relegating the host nation from the World Group. In singles, Austria's Marion Maruska beat Daniela Hantuchova 6-4, 7-6 (1) in her debut Fed Cup singles, and Austria's No 1, Barbara Schett, defeated Karina Habsudova 6-4, 7-5. Austria retired in the doubles and forfeited the meaningless match.

In Bari, Tathiana Garbin of Italy defeated Andrea Glass of Germany 6-2, 6-3. Germany and Italy each entered with 1-1 records and had no chance of catching Spain. Croatia was releaged from the group after finishing 0-3.

Fed Cup results

World Group B from Bratislava, Slovakia

Austria 2, Slovakia 1 Marion Maruska, Austria, def. Daniela Hantuchova, Slovakia, 6-4, 7-6 (7-1). Barbara Schett, Austria, def. Karina Habsudova, Slovakia, 6-4, 7-5. Doubles: Austria retired.

World Group C from Moscow

Belgium 2, Russia 1 Elena Likhovtseva, Russia, def. Laurence Courtois, Belgium, 6-4, 6-4. Kim Clijsters, Belgium, def. Anna Kournikova, Russia, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4. Els Callens and Laurence Courtois, Belgium, def. Anna Kournikova and Elena Likhovtseva, Russia, 6-4, 6-3.

Belgium advances to the semi-finals.