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BRATISLAVA (Reuters) - Slovakia surprised France when victories from
Daniela Hantuchova and Martina Sucha gave them an unbeatable 3-1 lead
and a spot in the Fed Cup semi-finals.
Hantuchova shook off early jitters to outplay the more powerful
French number one Amelie Mauresmo 2-6 6-4 6-3, while Sucha edged out
Nathalie Dechy 7-6 6-1 to seal victory over the 1997 champions.
Hantuchova initially struggled with her serve, apparently nervous in
front of her home-town crowd, while Mauresmo, two rungs ahead of the
Slovak in rankings at number 10, kept her off balance with her
typical physical pressure from the baseline.
The 23-year-old Frenchwoman broke Hantuchova's serve twice to take
the first set in just 29 minutes.
But Hantuchova, who has recently captured the attention of the media
for both her solid play and good looks, began to take risks in the
second set and attacked her opponent's backhand. She broke Mauresmo
twice to level the match.
Although Mauresmo came out strong in the third set to break
Hantuchova in the second game, she failed to consolidate the
advantage and allowed Hantuchova to gain momentum.
Mauresmo dropped her serve in the eighth game and handed the world
number 12 the control over the match.
"When you are playing against such a good player, you have to use all
the opportunities that you get. I am glad I used the ones I had,"
"Amelie played very well in the first set, she served really well...
I'm glad my play prevailed in the second set. I went to the net more
often, and I forced her to make more mistakes."
The 43-ranked Sucha, who came on court to save Slovak number two
Janette Husarova for a potentially deciding doubles match, traded
early service breaks with Dechy in the first set before she calmly
exploited unforced errors by her opponent to win the tiebreaker.
Dechy, world number 25, dropped her serve in the fourth game of the
second set and Sucha never looked back, clinching the match, and the
tie, with an ace.
"The first set was very important. I was losing love-two, and then I
turned the whole match around. I started to play my own game, and
when I won the first set I started to feel more comfortable and
confident, and I played even better," Sucha said.
Well done, Daniela. Brilliant result against Mauresmo!
Here are the scorelines.
Slovak Republic defeated France 4-1
Venue: Incheba - Hall "C"
Surface: Carpet – indoors
Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) defeated Nathalie Dechy (FRA) 7/5 7/5
Amelie Mauresmo (FRA) defeated Janette Husarova (SVK) 6/2 4/6 6/2
Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) defeated Amelie Mauresmo (FRA) 2/6 6/4 6/3
Martina Sucha (SVK) defeated Nathalie Dechy (FRA) 7/6 6/1
Janette Husarova/Henrieta Nagyova (SVK) defeated
Nathalie Dechy/Stephanie Foretz (FRA) 7/5 6/0
So Slovakia go through to the semis where they will meet Italy.
Italy defeated a weakened Belgium side 3-1 (Belgium missing Clijsters