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Team WTAworld, Administrator, aka Nibbler
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By STEPHEN WADE<br />AP Sports Writer

MADRID, Spain (AP) -- France got off to a good start in its bid for a second Fed Cup title when Sandrine Testud and Amelie Mauresmo won their matches Thursday against the Czech Republic.

Germany and Russia also won on the second day of the competition.

Testud defeated Kveta Hrdlickova 6-4, 6-1, and Mauresmo won over Denisa Chladkova 6-2, 7-5 in the best-of-three tie. France made it a sweep when Testud and Nathalie Tauziat beat Petra Cetkovska and Alena Vaskova 6-3, 6-2.

Germany took an unassailable 2-0 lead over Australia when Blanka Lamade defeated Alicia Molik 7-6 (2), 7-5, and Barbara Rittner outlasted Nicole Pratt 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.

The loss left the Czechs with no chance to reach Sunday's final. They also lost 2-1 Wednesday to Russia. The victory by Germany also dropped Australia out of contention.

Russia took an insurmountable 2-0 lead over Argentina. Nadia Petrova defeated Clarisa Fernandez 6-4, 6-3, and Elena Dementieva won over Maria Emilia Salerni 6-1, 6-2.

France won its only Fed Cup in 1997, and is expected to challenge Belgium for the title. Spain and Belgium swept their matches 3-0 for perfect starts Wednesday.

The Fed Cup field is divided into two round-robin groups with the two leaders making the final. France, Russia, Argentina and the Czech Republic are in Pool A. Belgium, Germany, Spain and Australia are in Pool B.

Germany replaced the United States. The two-time defending champion Americans who withdrew over security concerns.
 
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