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Russia take charge of Fed Cup final in Spain

September 14, 2008 08:49 IST

Russia took a commanding 2-0 lead in the Fed Cup final on Saturday after top 10 players Vera Zvonareva and Svetlana Kuznetsova overpowered their Spanish rivals to put the holders within reach of a fourth title in five years.

World number nine Zvonareva beat Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-3, 6-4 in the opening rubber of the five-match tie on Saturday before Svetlana Kuznetsova dismissed 20-year-old Carla Suarez 6-3, 6-1.

Russia were always overwhelming favourites to win the clay court tie, despite missing their top three players -- Elena Dementieva, Dinara Safina and Maria Sharapova -- but Zvonareva was made to work for her victory, after dominating the early stages.

She broke Medina Garrigues in her first service game at the exclusive Club de Campo sports club outside Madrid and put the world number 29 under pressure with a series of heavy forehands and running volleys. Anything played short was pounced on by the Russian Olympic bronze medalist.

But on a warm, cloudless day, the 26-year-old Spaniard grew in confidence, cheered on by fans in the 4,000 seat stadium, and went on to hold her next serve and break Zvonareva in the fifth, but she could not hold on and the Muscovite responded with a decisive break in the seventh and won the set in 44 minutes.

Medina Garrigues again started slowly in the second, but tirelessly tracked down every ball, and from 2-0 down reeled off four games in the row thanks to some sensational winners and some loose shots from her opponent.


Eventually though, the Russian's more aggressive game took its toll on the Spanish number one, who withered under a barrage of 16 forehand winners and lost the next four games to give Zvonareva the match after one hour and 33 minutes.

"I had to stay aggressive and I am really happy that my forehand worked really well today," said Zvonareva.

Former US Open champion Kuznetsova had a simpler time as she repeatedly out-witted and out-powered Suarez in the opening exchanges to race to a 4-0 lead.

Suarez fought back, taking three games without reply and came within a point of a second break that would have levelled the match at 4-4 as Kuznetsova started to rush her shots.

The 23-year-old Russian, who trained in Barcelona as a junior, shouted "vamos" -- "come on" in Spanish -- as she sought to quell Suarez and gradually she pushed her rival deeper and deeper on the court to reel off eight games to one in reply.

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