Fed Cup Playoffs: Former Powerhouse Russia Out of World Group I, as is 4-time Champ Italy
BELARUS d. RUSSIA 3-2
The halcyon days of Russian Fed Cup are no more. With no players in the Top 30 representing, the Russians are pounded into zonal play by former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, who won her first two singles matches before Belarus’ No. 100-ranked Aliaksandra Sasnovich beat Russia’s Margarita Gasparyan to put Belarus into World Group I for 2017. It is the first time in Belarus Fed Cup history that they will advance into World Group I, and Russia drops to zonal play for the first time in 19 years.
SPAIN d. ITALY 4-0
Italy’s top squad of former French Open winner Francesca Schiavone, No. 8-ranked Roberta Vinci and French Open finalist Sara Errani were no match for Spain’s home red clay, No. 4-ranked Garbine Muguruza and No. 1 Carla Suarez Navarro. Muguruza beat Schiavone and Vinci, and Suarez Navarro beat Vinci with no sets lost. The aged four-time Fed Cup champ Italians drop out of World Group I for the first time in 18 years.
GERMANY d. ROMANIA 4-1
Simona Halep beat Andrea Petkovic in three sets in the second singles match to get Romania on the board, but otherwise it was all Germany as Angie Kerber won both her singles, and Petkovic clinched it in the fourth singles match with a three-set win over Monica Niculescu on the Romanian red clay. Halep unsuccessfully tried to fight through an ankle injury during the tie.
USA d. AUSTRALIA 4-0
Prior to the tie the Aussies chided the U.S. for the no-show of the Williams sisters, but the American “B” team provided enough firepower to blank the Aussies on their home court. U.S. No. 1 Madison Keys handled Aussie rising star Daria Gavrilova in straight sets, and Aussie Sam Stosur suffered successive losses to Christine McHale, then Coco Vandeweghe who clinched the U.S. sweep in three sets. In 2017 the U.S. will compete in the World Group I for the first time in three years.
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