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Russia retain Fed Cup title

September 14, 2008 19:53 IST

Russia retained their Fed Cup title on Sunday after Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Spanish number one Anabel Medina Garrigues in a thrilling match to take an unassailable 3-0 lead.

The world number seven's 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 victory in two hours and 39 minutes brought Russia their fourth Fed Cup in five years despite the absence of their top three players and underlined Russia's dominance of the women's game.

Kuznetsova's win was no easy matter, however. Medina Garrigues fought bravely with the noisy backing of the near full 4,000-seater stadium, before finally running out of steam in the final set.

As on Saturday the Spaniard, ranked 29 in the world, was slow out of the blocks, meekly conceding her first two service games in the face of her opponent's blistering groundstrokes.

It looked as though Kuznetsova was cruising but in the fifth game, the 26-year-old Spaniard somehow produced a fizzing crosscourt backhand off a Kuznetsova smash to set up a break and then hold her own serve in the following game.

The first set swung decisively the way of the 26-year-old from Valencia in the ninth when Kuznetsova squandered four set points with a series of wayward forehands.

A fired-up Garrigues set up her second break back of the set with a running drive backhand down the line before a deflated Kuznetsova patted the next ball into the net.

In a match played with great sportsmanship, Kuznetsova over-ruled a line judge to give her opponent a point with the set poised delicately at 5-5.

Kuznetsova, who has struggled to hit form this year, upped her game in the second set and in the eighth game seized on Medina Garrigues's short second serve to break for a 5-3 before slamming down two aces in the next game to wrap up the set.

Medina Garrigues cancelled out an early break from Kuznetsova the third set but failed to keep the pressure going and the Russian's greater poise on the big points proved decisive.

On Saturday Kuznetsova beat Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3, 6-1 and Vera Zvonareva beat Medina Garrigues 6-3, 6-4.

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