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The Independent Online

Czechs beat Slovakia 2-1, advance to Fed Cup semifinals

The Czech Republic defeated Slovakia 2-1 on the third day of the Fed Cup's World Group B action on Saturday to advance to the semifinals of the competition in Bratislava, Slovakia.

In the opening match of the day, Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova beat Kveta Hrdlickova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-2 in her first career Fed Cup singles.

The Slovak, only 157th on the WTA Tour, broke Hrdlickova's serve in the very first game to an early 2-0 lead, and although she lost the following four consecutive games, she managed to come back and take the first set in just over an hour.

In the second set, the 17-year old Hantuchova clearly dominated with her aggressive play based on powerful serving, pushing Hrdlickova, visibly tired from playing four matches in two days, into defensive.

The Czech made scores of unforced errors. Her first serve was weak and baseline forehands frequently went wide.

"I was in a perfect shape, I didn't give Hrdlickova any chance," the jubilant Hantuchova said, thanking the home crowd for its boisterous support.

In the other singles, the Czech Republic's Denisa Chladkova beat Karina Habsudova 6-4, 6-4 in a battle for each ball.

The Czech had the upper hand throughout the match, capitalizing on lethal forehands down the lines.

"I knew I had to win to boost our chances," Chladkova said.

Hrdlickova then joined Daniela Bedanova in the decisive doubles, overcoming a 4-1 deficit in the first set to beat Hantuchova and Habsudova 7-5, 6-3.

The Czechs will join the United States and the winners of the other two round-robin World Groups in the Fed Cup's semifinals, to be played between Nov. 22-26.

Russia beats Australia to stay in the tournament

Anna Kournikova and Elena Likhovtseva teamed up in doubles play on Saturday to beat Rennae Stubbs and Jelena Dikic of Australia, giving Russia its first victory in the Federation Cup World Group C round-robin tennis competition.

Earlier, it took Likhovtseva just 61 minutes to down Nicole Pratt of Australia in straight sets 6-3, 6-2 and put Russia ahead 1-0.

But Dokic, the 17-year-old Australian No. 1, outplayed Kournikova, Russia's top player who is currently ranked 14th on the WTA Tour, 6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-3, to even the match 1-1.

"I really wanted to beat (Kournikova) in this tournament and I'm happy I've done it," said Dokic, who has won all three of her singles matches in as many days.

The tie was decided in a tough three-set doubles match. Kournikova and Likhovtseva defeated Dokic, who teamed up with doubles specialist Rennae Stubbs, 6-3, 4-6, 6-1, to stay in the tournament.

Australia lost all three of its matches and will be elliminated from the World Group next year.

France faces Belgium later Saturday, and Russia will play Belgium on Sunday to close the tournament.

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