The defending champion United States advanced to a semifinal meeting at France, and Germany and the Czech Republic set up a semifinal clash after the first round of Fed Cup Group I play over the weekend.
Germany is the only unseeded country into the semis after ousting top-seeded Belarus.
Here’s a look at the weekend results:
GERMANY d. BELARUS 3-2
Tatjana Maria lost her Day 1 singles, but roared back with a three-set singles win on Day 2, then won the deciding doubles with veteran Anna-Lena Groenefeld after losing the first set.
Aryna Sabalenda kept Belarus in it with two three-set singles wins, but the question remained what could have been had the Belarus squad been able to call on former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, who is still dealing with child custody issues. It was the German Maria’s first Fed Cup tie in seven years.
CZECH REPUBLIC d. SWITZERLAND 3-1
Petra Kvitova beat Swiss Viktorija Golubic in three sets and Barbora Strycova defeated Belinda Bencic in straights to give the Czechs a 2-0 lead on Day 1. On Sunday Kvitova clinched it in the first match, rolling over Bencic 6-2, 6-4.
It is a 10th straight appearance in the semifinals for the Czechs. “It was better today than yesterday, when I played in the Fed Cup again after such a long time away and needed time to get used to it,” Kvitova said. “It was a good game from both of us, but I wasn’t so nervous as yesterday.” The Czechs were without former No. 1 Karolina Pliskova, who missed the tie due to illness.
FRANCE d. BELGIUM 3-2
In a tie filled with heroics, Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic came out on top, winning both her singles then the deciding doubles with countrywoman Amandine Hess to see France through to the semifinals.
Belgian Elise Mertens opened the tie with a win over Frenchwoman Pauline Parmentier, then Mladenovic evened it at 1-1 after defeating Belgian Kirsten Flipkens in straights. After Mladenovic won the opener Sunday, Belgian Alison van Uytvanck came off the bench to beat Parmentier 6-1, 6-3 to force the deciding doubles, where Mladenovic-Hesse beat Flipkens-Mertens 6-4, 2-6, 6-2. France was without top players Caroline Garcia and Alize Cornet who declined to play. “My stomach was so painful,” said the Fed Cup rookie Hesse of her nerves in the doubles. “I was trying to stay focused and Kiki helped me a lot with this. She was telling me every point, ‘Relax, we will do it, take your time.’ I think it helped me a lot today.”
USA d. NETHERLANDS 3-1
The defending champion USA swept to a 3-0 win behind two straight-set victories by Venus Williams and a three-set win by CoCo Vandeweghe over Dutchwoman Richel Hogenkamp 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-3.
The world-beating doubles team of Venus and Serena Williams was anything but in Serena’s 2018 tour debut. The elder Williams was off her game, and the younger Williams did not look fit and was a step slow as the Americans lost to the unheralded Dutch team of Lesley Kerkhove and Demi Schuurs 6-2, 6-3.
WORLD GROUP II RESULTS
Slovakia d. Russia 4-1
Australia d. Ukraine 3-2
Romania d. Canada 3-1
Italy d. Spain 3-2
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