Pavlyuchenkova reduces arrears for Russia


MOSCOW – Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova re-launched Russia’s Fed Cup bid when she beat Alize Cornet 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 here on Sunday to leave France leading 2-1 in the World Group first round tie. Virginie Razzano, ranked 83 in the world, gave France a 2-0 lead on Saturday by downing home favourite and world number 13 Maria Sharapova 6-3, 6-4.
Razzano is now up against Svetlana Kuznetsova, ranked 23 in the world but who succumbed to Cornet in the opening rubber on Saturday. In the final rubber, a doubles match, Julie Coin and Pauline Parmentier will take on Pavlyuchenkova and Dinara Safina.
The German women’s tennis team beat Slovenia in round one of the World Group II Fed Cup in Maribor on Sunday, as Polona Hercog and Masa Zec Peskiric both lost their singles matches following a 1:1 tie on Saturday. Italy cruise to victory over Australia:
Italy made an emphatic start to the defence of their Fed Cup title with a comfortable 4-1 victory over Australia in their quarter-final tie in Hobart on Sunday. World No.16 Flavia Pennetta extended her winning streak in the competition to 10 matches with a 6-3, 6-2 triumph over the 31st-ranked Jarmila Groth.
That followed world number four Francesca Schiavone’s 7-6 (7/1), 3-6, 7-5 win over fifth-ranked Samantha Stosur in Sunday’s first reverse singles rubber. Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani saved two match points to fight back and beat the Australian combination of Rennae Stubbs and Anastasia Rodionova, 2-6, 7-6 (7/1), 6-4 in the dead doubles rubber for Italy’s fourth point of the tie. “We are really happy about this match (result). It was really tough for everyone here,” Pennetta said.
“We’re both really good teams. We can play singles, doubles, you can do whatever you want with our four and also with the Australians.” Groth registered a fighting 6-7 (4/7), 6-3, 6-3 comeback win over French Open champion Schiavone in her Cup debut for Australia on Saturday, but she was outclassed by Pennetta with the tie on the line. A WTA title winner in Hobart last month, Groth’s service was broken five times as she went down in just 65 minutes.
Heading into a rematch of her meeting with Stosur in last year’s French Open final, Schiavone had spent a total of nine hours, 20 minutes on court in her three previous matches over the past fortnight — including a record-setting four-hour 44-minute Australian Open win over Svetlana Kuznetsova. But the redoubtable Schiavone staved off 11 break points and broke Stosur’s serve for the only time in the last game of the match to give Italy the winning edge.
Stosur saved three match points in the 10th game of the deciding set and another with an ace in the 12th game before finally succumbing after two hours and 33 minutes. “You feel like you’re letting your team down if you can’t win a singles match over the weekend,” Stosur said.
Sharapova slumps on Fed Cup return: Maria Sharapova’s first Fed Cup appearance in three years ended in tame defeat on Saturday as four-time champions Russia went 2-0 down to France in their World Group quarter-final clash in Moscow.
Sharapova, desperately trying to rebuild her career after a long struggle with shoulder trouble, lost 6-3, 6-4 to Virginie Razzano, the world number 83. Alize Cornet had earlier given the injury-hit visitors a 1-0 lead, producing a surprise win of her own, a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 triumph over Svetlana Kuznetsova.
“I was giving her far too many free points, I wasn’t serving well, and I wasn’t really being aggressive on the court and I was giving her the opportunity to hit the first ball, and I think the court really suited her today,” said Sharapova. Russia need to win all of Sunday’s three matches to avoid being eliminated in the first round for the first time in six years. However, Sharapova believes Russia still have a chance of turning the match around.
“We are going to go out and fight. We never give up and that’s not what our country is known for, and we are going to go out there and battle for what is ours,” said Sharapova. Sunday’s winners will tackle either Australia or defending champions Italy, who were locked at 1-1 in Hobart, in the semi-finals. Flavia Pennetta drew double defending champions Italy level with a gutsy victory over Samantha Stosur.
World No.16 Pennetta maintained her edge over the world number five Stosur, winning 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (5/7), 6-4 in over three hours.