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Next Up In Fed Cup: Belgium
Rubin, U.S. Sweep Italy in Quarterfinals

By Emily Badger
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 21, 2003; Page D01

Chanda Rubin won her second singles match in as many days yesterday to hand the United States a quarterfinal Fed Cup victory -- not a bad contribution for a tennis player who 10 days ago didn't plan to be here.

A last-minute addition to the team after Venus Williams and Monica Seles bowed out with injuries, Rubin ended up serving as its anchor at William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center. She rallied to win the day's first match, 5-7, 6-4, 6-0, over Francesca Schiavone to clinch the best-of-five tie with Italy and send the United States to a semifinal meeting with Belgium in November.

"I'm happy to have been able to come out and play such a large part in the victory," Rubin said.

"That was the goal. Once I decided I was going to play, that was my focus -- coming out, giving my all and hopefully making that translate into victories."

The American team, which wound up sweeping by a 5-0 score, briefly postponed the last two matches while Rubin and her three teammates took the obligatory tour around the court, flag in hand. The early clincher helped relieve some of the stress in the American locker room -- especially for Meghann Shaughnessy, who played the second singles contest -- but it did little to keep the crowd in the stands for a pair of essentially meaningless matches, as about half of the 4,417 in attendance left after the clincher.

"I think the score speaks for itself," U.S. Captain Billie Jean King said.

In the first of those last two contests, Shaughnessy defeated Rita Grande, 6-3, 7-5. In the doubles match, Rubin was scheduled to join Lisa Raymond but was replaced by Alexandra Stevenson, and the Americans rolled to a 6-1, 6-2 win over Tathiana Garbin and Antonella Serra-Zanetti.

Italy needed to win all three matches yesterday to advance after Rubin and Shaughnessy swept Saturday's two singles contests. Instead, the Italians fell to the United States for the ninth time in nine meetings since 1963.

"Overall the team really jelled together because of the fact that we had to go down the list the way we did," U.S. coach Zina Garrison said, referring to the team's last-minute composition. "Once everyone decided to come here, they wanted to win and show people that you didn't have to be at the top, but the next step was just as good."

Early in Rubin's match, it appeared as if Schiavone might keep her team's hopes alive.

Rubin, the No. 8 singles player in the world, fell behind in the first set. Through the first 11 games, neither player was able to break the other's serve. Rubin went into the 12th game trailing 6-5, but she wasn't able to use the serve to her advantage and ended up firing a forehand into the net to give Italy its first set of the weekend.

Rubin fell behind again 4-3 in the second set before winning two of the last three games -- both of which went to deuce -- to set up the deciding set.

With the match starting to drag into its third hour, Rubin broke Schiavone's serve to start the third set. She then whipped through six straight games and closed out the contest against an exhausted Schiavone with an ace on match point.

"In the end, I feel like as a team, we're better than they are," Rubin said, sparing the diplomacy that usually accompanies Fed Cup competitions. "When things get tough, I just remember why I am where I am in the top 10 in the world and remember all the victories I've had coming into here."

After Rubin's victory, despite the two remaining matches, questions arose regarding the U.S. team's upcoming semifinal tie in a country that has yet to be selected against Belgium, which features Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne.

A Serena and Venus Williams matchup against the two top Belgians would be a competition made in Fed Cup heaven, and Rubin showed she shouldn't be discounted either. But given that King solidified her quarterfinal team just a week before the competition, four months may be a little too early to start discussing Belgium.

"Wherever we play, our job is to adjust to the conditions," King said, regarding the possibility of playing on clay in November.

"Whomever we do have play, the U.S. women are so deep and so fortunate to have this many great players."

• BELGIUM 5, SLOVAKIA 0: Clijsters and Henin-Hardenne scored easy victories to lead host Belgium to the semifinals with a rout of defending champion Slovakia in Charleroi, Belgium.

"We're getting better so we're definitely looking forward to" playing the United States, Clijsters said.

The second-ranked Clijsters defeated Janette Husarova, 6-0, 6-1, in less than an hour.

Henin-Hardenne, the French Open winner who is ranked third, downed Lubomira Kurhajcova, 6-2, 6-1.

In doubles, Els Callens and Caroline Maes struggled past Kurhajcova and Jarmila Gajdosova, 6-4, 7-5.

• FRANCE 4, SPAIN 1: In Oviedo, Spain, Amelie Mauresmo beat Magui Serna, 7-5, 6-2, to lead France past the Spaniards and into the semifinals.

The French, who entered the day with a 2-0 lead, will face Russia in the next round.

In the second singles, France's Stephanie Cohen-Aloro downed Maria Antonia Sanchez Lorenzo, 6-3, 6-4. Cohen-Aloro was a replacement for Nathalie Dechy.

In doubles, Spain's Anabel Medina and Virginia Ruano defeated Dechy and Emilie Loit, 6-4, 6-4.

Spain, a five-time Fed Cup champion, reached the finals last year but lost to Slovakia. Spain was playing without veterans Conchita Martinez and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario. Martinez is sitting out these matches and Sanchez-Vicario retired in November.

• RUSSIA 5, SLOVENIA 0: In Portoroz, Slovenia, Elena Bovina defeated Katarina Srebotnik, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, to give the Russians their clinching victory en route to a quarterfinal sweep.

Vera Zvonareva downed Maja Matevzic, 6-1, 6-2, and in doubles, Elena Dementieva and Anastasia Myskina topped Srebotnik and Tina Krizan, 6-2, 6-3.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

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TC, Chanda is so deserving of success and the accolades that come with it! :D She has overcome numerous injuries to become a fine player and be a real threat to the top women's tennis players in the world. :) Unlike other American top players, I get the feeling Chanda loves to play Fed Cup!

Daniela Hantuchova pulled out of Slovakia's Fed Cup tie with Belgium. Slovakia is the defending Fed Cup champion. And Dani's not wanting to play the highly favored Belgians and probably be crushed by Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters makes her look bad. :(
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well done, USA!

I'm just happy they didn't spell her name Chandra :rolleyes:
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